Friday, 20 July 2018 | PNS | New Delhi–
Sena confirms it will vote against No-Confidence Motion today; ADMK, TRS, BJD likely to abstain from voting
A day before the Lok Sabha takes up the crucial debate on No-Confidence Motion against the Modi Government, the BJP on Thursday mended its fences with the sulking ally Shiv Sena and reached out to the AIADMK and the TRS to persuade them not to stand with the Opposition against the Centre.
In an important development, the Shiv Sena, which has been highly critical of the Modi Government over the last two years, has agreed to oppose the motion, giving a clear signal that its stance of going it alone in Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha polls may also see a shift in the coming days. The BJP leaders are confident that now the two parties will contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls together.
It is near certain that the 20-member Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which is facing Assembly polls next year, will abstain from the voting. The BJD will be pitted against the BJP in the polls and as such it could not afford to positively respond to BJP’s overtures. The TRS (11 MPs) and the AIADMK (37 MPs) have indicated they will not back the no-trust motion, though it is not clear if they will oppose it either, keeping open the option of abstention.
TRS MPs met at the residence of floor leader of the party Jitender Reddy after which party MP Vinod Kumar said that the TRS members would highlight the unfulfilled promises made to the Telangana State by the Central Government. However, most likely the TRS members will not take part in the voting on the motion.
The efforts to bring more parties to vote for the Government are spearheaded by BJP president Amit Shah, a Rajya Sabha member, who reached out to parties beyond National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold.
In the House of 533 members, the ruling NDA has 313 MPs, including 274 (including the Speaker) of the BJP, 18 of the Shiv Sena, six of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and four of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), three RLSP, and two JD(U). The stated strength of the Opposition in the Lower House is 222. The majority mark, however, stands at 267 as 10 seats are vacant.
Indicating that his party will not support the no-trust vote, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami said, “The TDP has moved this motion to highlight issues in Andhra Pradesh. No State supported Tamil Nadu when we stalled proceedings in Parliament over Cauvery.”
The debate in the Lok Sabha will be held on Friday from 11am. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to speak soon after it starts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be present in House, will respond to it shortly before the voting is held after the day-long debate.
The BJP will field five speakers to speak against the motion. The BJP has been allotted 3 hours and 33 minutes for the debate, Congress 38 minutes, AIADMK 29 minutes, TMC 27 minutes, BJD 15, Shiv Sena 14, TDP 13, and TRS 9 minutes.
As against BJP’s determined effort to muster maximum numbers to put across the message that it has much bigger support than the Opposition, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi exuded confidence that the Opposition has enough numbers. “Who says we don’t have the numbers,” she said.
The BJP made light of the Congress’ claim that the Opposition had the numbers to back its No-Confidence Motion against the Government. Asked about Sonia’s claim that the Opposition had numbers, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar took a dig at her, saying, “Sonia Gandhi’s math is weak.”
Kumar also recalled that Sonia, as the then Congress chief in 1999, had claimed to have the support of 272 MPs, the majority mark in the Lok Sabha, after the fall of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA Government.
Going by the estimate of the BJP’s floor managers, the Government is likely to get the support of smaller parties such as the PMK and the Raju Shetty-led Swabhimani Paksha.
Although the two parties are no longer part of the NDA, the Government believes they would stand by it during the vote on the motion.
The LS Speaker announced that the House would take up the debate on the No-Confidence Motion moved by several Opposition parties on issues such as a special category status to Andhra Pradesh, cow vigilantism, lynching, atrocities against women and Dalits, and the alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act on Friday.
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