Vote of No Confidence: Jarring Notes

Full credit to PM Modi for keeping the democratic and constitutional tradition alive
"And the acceptance ensured Prime Minister Mr Modi’s presence in the House though he came only at the fag end to reply to the debate."
"And the acceptance ensured Prime Minister Mr Modi’s presence in the House though he came only at the fag end to reply to the debate."File/ ANI

In view of the BJP’s brute majority in Lok Sabha it was a foregone conclusion that the opposition sponsored Vote of No Confidence against Narendra Modi government will be comfortably defeated.

That, in fact, was also not the aim of the reinvigorated Congress-led opposition camp after the birth of new alliance I.N.D.I.A to challenge Mr Modi and his might in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The singular aim seemed to be to force Mr Modi to come to the House, he almost missed the entire monsoon session before replying to the Motion of No Confidence, and draw him out on the Manipur mayhem which is continuing unabatedly for the last three months.

No body had any doubt that through his powerful oratorial skills Mr Modi will have his way. He did so but whether it would impact the public mind or not, the manner in which he wanted to, is still an issue wide open.

On the other-hand opposition despite losing the No Confidence Motion by a voice vote, emerged morally victorious in more than one way. First and foremost the Motion saw the light of the day amidst speculations if it would be allowed or not given the fact that the opposition space in Parliament has been considerably shrinking.

And the acceptance ensured Prime Minister Mr Modi’s presence in the House though he came only at the fag end to reply to the debate.

Nevertheless, full credit to him for keeping the democratic and constitutional tradition alive. The jury will be out for some more time on whether his 133-minute address matched or surpassed the already set standards of an address by a Prime Minister particularly on a No Confidence Motion.

No doubt, he broke a record, though by a whisker, of delivering the longest speech thereby beating former Prime Minister Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri by a minute. It could be a good marketing point for the BJP strategists ahead of the coming election season but definitely not something to boast about in terms of quality.

The opposition’s moral victory on another important count came not through their performance but by dint of the fact that Mr Modi devoted better part of his address, nearly one hour and 45 minutes, to berate the Congress, Gandhi family and the I.N.D.I.A conglomerate in a no-holds-barred manner, at times not matching the stature of a most powerful leader of his time.

By the count Mr Modi mentioned Congress 44 times and the Nehru-Gandhi family almost an equal number of times. Naturally, it leads to a question; Should a weak and meek or what Mr Modi termed as a spent force be given such a high priority even in terms of criticism? Or is it that the weak and meek is being perceived as a potential threat, after becoming focal point of the opposition unity and electoral victories in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka dethroning BJP? Or else, why would Mr Modi devote so much time on Congress?

It is ironic that rather than gracefully accepting the shortcomings of BJP governments at the Centre and Manipur in failing to read and control the situation, he sought to shift the blame on Congress.

And in this process traced the history of events to Pandit Nehru and Indira Gandhi eras for no rhyme or reason. It only reflected anxiety rather than anything else.

Knives are already out in certain quarters questioning the Congress-led opposition’s decision to stage a walk-out in the midst of Prime Minister’s address as he did not touch upon the Manipur issue even after nearly two-hours.

Some may argue that the opposition strategy was weak and disjointed. At places it was and the opposition benches were seen squirming under the Prime Minister’s onslaught aimed at tearing their unity façade.

However, the opposition had no option but to stage a walk-out while repeatedly raising slogans of Manipur, Manipur, Manipur……. Demanding that Mr Modi speak on the issue. He did broach the subject at the fag end of his address in the face of vacant opposition benches.

Did opposition walk-out force the Prime Minister to speak about the prevailing situation in Manipur as he had already traced the genesis of North-East troubles for which he blamed the earlier Congress governments? Or was it in his original plans to take it up towards the end?

A clearcut answer to this would never be known. Fact of the matter is that presuming that he had intended to speak on the issue, the opposition boycott, ostensibly, blocked all possibilities of skirting it. Ignoring the Manipur issue altogether, vis-à-vis the opposition boycott, under the circumstances would have turned the news headlines upside down something which would have been to the utter disliking of the ruling dispensation.

Keeping aside debate on the content of Mr Modi’s speech and the strategy, as usual he had come fully prepared. He had set his targets clearly with an aim to deflect the Manipur issue in its current manifestation. The moot point is whether he succeeded in this endeavour or not. The immediate answer is no, howsoever, the BJP camp might rejoice.

The opposition camp has a reason to feel elated that they drew more focus, courtesy Mr Modi, than what they would have expected. Is it an outcome of factor I.N.D.I.A coming into existence without any hitch and proving the prophets of doom wrong? Visibly, there seems no other reason behind the PM devoting so much time to Congress, whom he termed as discredited and anti-national, and the supporting parties.

Or else, how would the ruling dispensation justify the sudden expulsion of Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mr Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary from the House immediately after Mr Modi’s address. He has been charged with habitually disrupting the Prime Minister’s address.

Although Congress leader Mr Rahul Gandhi, fresh from coming out of his expulsion from Lok Sabha, did forcefully make his point on Manipur in his short speech but he missed an opportunity to mark his return in a big way. He seemed in a hurry and came unprepared for a big event like this.

On the contrary Mr Modi came fully prepared but his mission seemed more electorally oriented - in view of coming assembly and Lok Sabha elections- than in line with the Parliamentary practices and moorings attached with the Motion of No Confidence. He went along the path he wished to tread upon.

Neither Mr Modi nor Mr Gandhi, in fact, could rise to the demands of the occasion. Both missed on a personal count as well as on an opportunity to set new standards in parliamentary debates. The country and the system lost.

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