All eyes are on Friday’s debate in the Lok Sabha, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reply, on the no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition against the government, with the ruling BJP-led NDA confident of its numbers to defeat the motion.
It is the first time that the Modi government will face such a motion. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Telugu Desam Party’s Kesineni Srinivas, Vijayawada MP, would move his motion as his name had come up in the lottery.
The TDP had quit the NDA coalition in March protesting against the government not giving a special package to Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress has expressed confidence about the Opposition winning the Motion. “Who says we don’t have the numbers?” Congress leader and former party chief Sonia Gandhi was quoted as saying.
The Congress and TDP were among the Opposition parties that moved the motion on Wednesday, the first day of the Monsoon Session.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has said the government is ready to face the motion and would win. “The entire country has confidence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The entire NDA is united and we will face the No Confidence Motion. In fact, we are hopeful of getting support from several non-NDA parties as well,” he said.
While the Opposition had moved notices for a No Confidence Motion against the government in the Budget session too, the Speaker had not allowed it, citing the chaos in the House due to which the support of 50 MPs, necessary to back the motion, could not be ascertained.
The Trinamool Congress, the third largest party in the Opposition bloc, had on Wednesday sought a different date as the party observes Martyr’s Day on Friday, with a major event in Kolkata. However, later West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee ordered the party’s 34 lawmakers to head back to the national capital for Friday’s vote.
TMC leader Derek O’ Brien said the party has issued a whip to all 34 members of TMC to remain present in the House for the debate. Likewise, the BJP has issued a three-line whip to its MPs and asked its allies in NDA to issue a whip also.
There are 10 vacancies in the Lok Sabha currently, making 534 the effective strength of the House, excluding the Speaker. This would bring down the majority mark required to defeat the No Confidence Motion to 268.
The ruling NDA has 313 members in the Lok Sabha, including 274 (including Speaker) of BJP, 18 of Shiv Sena, six LJP and four SAD.
The strength of the Opposition is 222, including 63 of the Congress-led UPA, 37 of AIADMK, 34 of TMC, 20 BJD, 16 TDP and 11 TRS.
The government expects to get the support of at least 314 MPs in the House.
According to reports, the AIADMK has decided to take a call on Thursday night on its stand on the No-Trust Vote.
The BJP expects that the defeat of the Motion would send a message that the united Opposition wasn’t strong enough to take on the ruling coalition.
Prime Minister Modi, in his reply to the Motion, is expected to make a strong pitch of his government’s policies and outline its welfare schemes, which would also help set the tone for the 2019 general elections.
Ananth Kumar said the day-long debate would give the government an opportunity to counter the Opposition’s “lies” as well as highlight the “huge achievements” of Prime Minister Modi’s government over the last four years.
“We will put the welfare schemes and development projects carried out by the government in last four years before the people,” Kumar said.
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