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LS TO TEST MODI’S TRUST ON FRIDAY

Thursday, 19 July 2018 | Deepak K Upreti | New Delhi– Speaker allows first among notice-givers TDP to move no-confidence motion Exactly ten years after the BJP moved a no-confidence motion against the Congress-led UPA Government on July 22, 2008, the Lok Sabha would debate and vote on a no-confidence motion against the BJP dispensation on Friday with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan admitting a notice brought by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the other Opposition parties, including the Congress, on Wednesday. Then the UPA Government had won the motion with 19 votes. The no-confidence motion may play out in the Lower House as a muscle flexing exercise between the treasury and Opposition benches ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Opposition seeks to corner the Modi Government on the host of issues, including grant of special status to Andhra Pradesh, lynching, cow vigilantism, atrocities against women and dalits, and dilution of law meant for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe’s protection. All these figure in the no-confidence motion listed by the TDP and other Opposition parties, including the Congress. The BJP and the Government, which are sure to carry the day with 273 BJP members (without the Speaker) and 313 MPs of National Democratic alliance (NDA)  would emphasise unity within the NDA with general elections less than six months away. The major NDA allies include 18 of Shiv Sena, six Lok Jan Shakti Party and four Shiromani Akali Dal. In a House of 535 members, the strength of the Opposition is 222, including 63 of the Congress-led UPA, 37 of AIADMK, 34 TMC, 20 BJD, 16 TDP and 11 TRS. The decision of Opposition parties, like Biju-Janata Dal (BJD) and AIADMK, seen to be fence-sitters, would be interesting to watch during the course of no-confidence motion. The BJD would be facing the BJP in Odisha during the Assembly polls next year.  Sources in the BJP claimed some of the parties may abstain on Friday. “The House will take up the debate (on the motion) on Friday. The discussion will be held for the full day, followed by voting on it,” Mahajan announced in the House when it reassembled after the lunch break on the first day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. She also said there will be no Question Hour on that day and the House would have no other business, barring the discussion on the no-confidence motion. Earlier, the Speaker had announced that she would announce the date for the debate in 2-3 days. During the Zero Hour, she had named all members from the TDP, the Congress and the NCP, among others, who had moved similar no-confidence motion notices and said TDP’s Kesineni Srinivas would move his motion as his party was the first to raise it. Mahajan had not accepted notices for a similar motion during the Budget Session, which was washed out in uproar by the TDP, the TRS and some Opposition parties demanding that Government agree to the motion. The motion was rejected on the ground that the House was not in order as there were continuous protests in the Well of the House by Opposition members on various issues. On Wednesday , the TDP, which had quit the NDA in March in protest against the Government not giving a special package to Andhra Pradesh, had moved the motion during Zero Hour which was admitted by the Speaker. “More than 50 members are supporting the motion, so the leave is granted (to bring in no-confidence motion),” Mahajan said earlier in the day, accepting the notice. With Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanding that the largest party be allowed to move the motion, Mahajan said as per rules, the party which raises the motion first, gets to move it. “It’s not a question of big party, small party… Those who brought the no-confidence motion, I read all the rules. The person who first brought the motion, has to be called first,” Mahajan said. As Kharge pressed with the demand that all members who brought in the motion should be allowed to move it, Mahajan said “You go through the record… I have gone according to the rule”. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Government is prepared to face the no-confidence motion brought in by several parties. “The entire country has confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said. The Trinamool Congress  urged the Speaker to defer it till Monday saying it had a scheduled programme. “As you know, we have the ‘Martyr’s Rally’ on July 21. Every MP needs to be present in Kolkata for its preparation. We appeal to you to kindly change the date so that we can all participate. This is for the sake of democracy and for Parliament. We have 34 MPs. So kindly consider our request and postpone the discussion to July 24,” TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi appealed to the Speaker. However, later outside the House, they said all TMC MPs would attend the debate and participate in the voting on the motion. The House in its 18 sitting is expected to run smoothly and taking up  important bills  ahead, including the ones relating to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Amendment bill , the Transgender (protection of rights) Bill  and  the Surrogacy  (Regulation) Bill , 2016.

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