The ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led government defeated the “no-confidence motion” brought against it by the Congress-led Opposition after a marathon debate that lasted for nearly 12 hours.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Sumitra Mahajan, honorable Speaker (Lok Sabha) had accepted, on July 18th, 2018, the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi-led government, moved by the Opposition parties
- Submitted by several opposition members, Sumitra Mahajan only accepted the notice from Telugu Desam Party’s MP Kesineni Srinivas, on grounds that he was the first.
- When the division was held at 11.10 pm, the ayes for the non-confidence motion were 126 and the noes were 325.
- The defeat of the non-confidence motion was a foregone conclusion, as the BJP on its own has 273 members in the house of 535 including the Speaker.
- The debate went off for 12 hours mostly without interruptions, till Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his reply.
WHAT IS NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION?
- Though neither a confidence motion nor a no-confidence motion is mentioned in the Constitution Article 75 of the Constitution spells it out that the Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People.
- This implies that the majority of the Lok Sabha members must support the Prime Minister and his Cabinet or else the ministry can be removed from the office by passing a no-confidence motion.
- A no-confidence motion is an attempt, usually by an Opposition party, to get the Government to prove its majority on the floor of the House.
- The motion can be moved against the entire Council of Ministers only.
- Speaker announces the date of discussion for the month after a minimum of 50 members has accepted to the motion.
WHO CAN MOVE A NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION?
- A no-confidence motion can be moved only in the Lok Sabha and not in Rajya Sabha by any member of the House.
- The member need not give a reason for moving the no-confidence motion.
- This is specified in Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Lok Sabha.
- A member has to give a written notice of the motion before 10 am which will be read out by the Speaker in the House.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS
- The Speaker of the House will announce the date for discussion for the motion.
- Once the motion is accepted, the date of discussion is allotted for within 10 days from the day the motion is accepted. Failing which, the motion fails and the member who moved the motion must be informed about the same.
- If the motion is accepted, then the ruling party has to prove its majority in the House.
WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY MOTION BEING TAKEN UP
- On the day of the motion being taken up, the members of the House have an opportunity to present their views on the performance of the Government.
- Once that is concluded after the debate, the members vote on the motion
- The ruling government has to prove its majority on the floor, meaning it will need at least 273 votes if all members are present.
- The Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers can only hold office if they have the confidence of the Lok Sabha
- If they fail to do so, then they are obliged to resign.
WHAT HISTORY SAYS
- Till now, overall, 26 no-confidence motions have been moved. Out of these, 25 have been unsuccessful and one did not get to the voting stage as Morarji Desai resigned as the Prime Minister.
- The first no-confidence motion was faced by former PM Jawaharlal Nehru after India-China war.
- Lal Bahadur Shastri and PV Narasimha Rao faced three no-confidence motions.
- Indira Gandhi had also faced 15 no-confidence motions.
- The present motion is the first no-confidence motion in 15 years and also a first for the Narendra Modi government.
In about 9 months (most probably in April or May 2019), Indian voters will go to the polls to elect their next Parliament and to constitute the seventeenth Lok Sabha. Though, it is unclear whether there will be another such confrontational moment in our Indian politics before India goes to vote. We, in India, do not have the tradition of a televised debate between candidates and thus, there is no other chance for a one-on-one between the PM and the general public. The only option we have is the no-confidence motion, and that was, unfortunately, not helping in producing any clarity about what the great theme of 2019 will be.