July 23, 2018

Monsoon Session Begins With a Vote of No Confidence

Analysis by Aman Thakkar , Editor Indialogue

On Friday, June 20th, Prime Minister Modi’s government, led by the National Democratic Alliance, faced a vote of no confidence. The motion was the first to be approved after nearly 15 years, as the motion requires 50 supporters before it can be moved. The motion was movedby Jayadev Galla of the Telegu Desam Party, which withdrew from the alliance earlier this year due to frustrations over their demand that the central government offer the state of Andhra Pradesh “Special Category Status.” However, it was the President of the Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi, and his speech that got the most attention from the opposition.

Indeed, the MP from Amethi hit out at the government on a host of issues, ranging from demonetization to job growth to defence acqusition. Indeed, Gandhi’s criticisms on the Rafale deal, which was initially under negotiation under the INC-led UPA government from 2004 to 2014, but was concluded by Prime Minister Modi’s government, led to the government of France issuing an official statement. He culminated his speech when he walked over to Prime Minister Modi’s seat in the Lok Sabha, and gave him a hug.

Prime Minister Modi hit back in the final speech before the vote, criticizing Gandhi for what the PM alleged were untruthful remarks regarding the Rafale deal, as well as responded to opposition’s criticisms on the decision to conduct surgical strikes in Pakistan, on foreign policy, and on economic growth. The final vote was then tallied, and went decisively in favor of the government, with only 126 MPs voting in favor of the motion.

*Bigger Picture: A number of analysts have already begun pointing to this exercise as an indicator of how respective parties will perform in the upcoming 2019 elections. I have a different view for now. While, yes, the exercise does speak to the INC’s ability to organize a coalition and rally the mythical “united opposition” against the BJP, the story here is more about the rhetoric. The speeches by Prime Minister Modi and Rahul Gandhi are quite telling about how they look to engage the voters and each other on the issues. That’s where I’ll be looking over the next few months as the political calculus among the key parties on the periphery of both alliances (the TDP, Shiv Sena, Biju Janata Dal, AIDMK, etc.) shift._

*Aman Thakkar, Editor Indialogue*