By Kalyani Shankar
Whoever thought that Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is touted as a strong leader leading an expanding BJP will face a no confidence motion after four years? When Modi rode into South Block in 2014, the BJP believed that the party and its leaders are invincible and is now enthused by the successive poll results, which enabled the BJP led NDA ruling in 21 states. So the first no confidence motion brought against the Modi government by the two regional parties TDP and YSR Congress from Andhra Pradesh this week has come as a rude shock to the BJP managers.
No confidence motion in a democracy is a strong tool for the opposition. Socialist leader Acharya Kripalani brought the first no confidence motion against the Jawaharlal Nehru government in August 1963. The last was against Dr. Manmohan Singh government in 2008 on the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Vajpayee government in 1999 lost the government by one vote. Interestingly, Indira Gandhi faced a record number of 15 no confidence motions and her son Rajiv Gandhi with such brute majority also faced it in 1987.
So why is this sudden move to attack the Modi government? The immediate provocation was the NDA ally TDP quitting the alliance on the issue of granting a special status to Andhra Pradesh as promised during the bifurcation of the state in 2014. Unable to counter the rival YSR Congress proposing to bring a no confidence motion against the Modi government on this issue, the ruling TDP also has given notice. Sensing an opportunity to hit the Modi government several opposition parties including the Congress, NCP, TMC, AIMIM, CPI-M, AAP, CPI and RJD have come forward to support the motion.
Secondly, the opposition feels that the timing is right for such a motion with cracks appearing in the NDA. Though the BJP had stunned everyone with its spectacular victory in the Northeast last month, especially the Left bastion Tripura, the subsequent losses in the recent by-elections in UP and also Bihar have emboldened the disgruntled Opposition to attack the government.
The fact that the efforts for opposition unity is being pursued by Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Trinamool Congress chief Sharad Pawar and Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao shows how the opposition is sensing the opportunity. Two other regional satraps –the SP chief Akilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati have also got a boost after the alliance won Gorakhpur and Phulpur constituencies to take on the BJP. Sitting in jail, the RJD chief Lalu has had a last laugh in Bihar bye poll results.
Thirdly, although there is no threat to the Modi government as the BJP and its allies still have 314 votes the Opposition wants to dent his image within the country and abroad. The anti-BJP forces would not like to lose any opportunity to embarrass the Modi regime. The Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar has said recently, “I want to tell the Congress and other opposition members that there is confidence inside and outside the house. That’s why the BJP is ready to face the no-confidence motion.”
Fourthly, the other disgruntled NDA allies are not very happy with the BJP leaders. TDP is the second partner, after former Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, to part ways with the NDA in less than a month. Significantly, after the exit of the TDP, the NDA is not in power in any state in the south. Another long-term ally Shiv Sena has already announced that it will not fight the 2019 Lok Sabha polls with the BJP. The Akali Dal too has been blunt with the BJP and had conveyed that the BJP needs to deal with the SAD better.
What made the TDP embolden to take on the powerful BJP? The TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has realized that he had to face the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls without fulfilling most of the dreams he had sold to the electorate. So what better way than to make the Modi government as the villain? TDP rival Y.S. Jagan Reddy of the YSR Congress, also saw an opportunity to gain some brownie points and jumped into the fray by bringing the no confidence motion. However, Naidu has effectively stolen the thunder of Reddy and also upset the plans of the BJP, as even YSRC can’t align with BJP at this juncture. The Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi said that he would grant a special status to Andhra if Congress were voted to power in 2019.
There is no doubt that cracks have appeared in the NDA.
Secondly, the BJP’s expansion plans in the South have also hit a break. Its move to help the EPS and OPS factions in Tamil Nadu to come together hasn’t been a success. A win the upcoming Karnataka polls will go a long way in boosting the morale of the BJP workers. The BJP has to address the concerns of the allies if it means to continue coalition dharma. After all, the BJP has come a long way from an untouchable party in the early eighties to 33 NDA allies today.
The motion might not even see the daylight as the house is yet to take up the issue because Tamil Nadu MPs are demanding the setting up of the Cauvery board and will not allow the house to run. Neither the government nor the opposition is keen to resolve this and ultimately it might be a wasted session. (IPA Service)