Vol. XLII No. 30 July 29, 2018

No-Confidence Motion: Modi Government Exposed

THE no-confidence motion discussed and voted upon in the Lok Sabha on July 20 became an occasion for exposure of the four-year record of the Modi government.

Though the motion was in the name of a Telugu Desam MP, whose purpose was to highlight the betrayal by the Modi government of the commitment made to Andhra Pradesh to declare it as a special category state, the opposition was able to focus on a range of issues concerning the many failures of the Modi government. They dealt with the plight of farmers and the governments going back on the Swaminathan Commission’s formula for the pricing of agricultural crops to be cost of production plus half; the abject failure to deliver on the promise of two crore jobs every year; the fiasco of demonetisation; the empty rhetoric about bringing back black money stashed abroad and so on.

More tellingly, the atmosphere of hate and intolerance which has become the hallmark of the Modi regime was brought out – the attacks on minorities, dalits and the horrendous lynchings occurring all over the country. The government was put squarely in the dock on this count. 

The issue of corruption with regard to the purchase of the Rafale fighter planes was strongly raised, particularly by Rahul Gandhi. The defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s plea that the information about the price of aircraft is governed by a confidentiality agreement between the two countries has proven to be hollow.   Such an agreement pertains to the classified information about the technical and operational details of the aircraft and not its cost. 

The dogged refusal of the Modi government to give out information about the price at which the 36 aircrafts were purchased is confirming the widespread suspicion that there is something murky about the deal. 

The BJP leaders, who spoke, sought to question the propriety of moving a no-confidence motion when it is clear that the government has a stable majority.  This is, of course, a spurious argument. The no-confidence motion is brought in not only to vote out a government but it is an instrument for voicing disapproval and opposition to the policies and performance of the government.  It is on this account that the BJP and the NDA alliance failed to counter the opposition charges and defend the government’s record.

The prime minister, in his response to the debate, made a speech which was notable for the hackneyed repetition of statistics to show how the government had delivered on various fronts.  Apart from that, Narendra Modi resorted to his stock-in-trade diatribe against the Congress and the dynasty. For most people, who viewed the debate and are not committed to any party, the opinion was that Narendra Modi conspicuously failed to answer the pointed queries and issues posed by the opposition.

The vote rejecting the no-confidence motion was on expected lines with the government winning by a comfortable majority. But, as a television news channel pointed out, the parties which voted to reject the no-confidence motion had garnered 37 percent of the votes in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014; while the parties which voted for the motion had got 43 percent of the votes in that election.  That is a fact which is going to haunt the BJP and the Modi government in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election of 2019. 

(June 25, 2018)