Explained: What Is A No-Confidence Motion?
On Friday, 20 July 2018, the Modi government won the vote of confidence after 325 MPs voted in favour of the government while 126 MPs voted against it. With 451 MPs present in the lower House of the Parliament, the majority mark was 226 which the government comfortably reached.
But what does this vote of confidence mean and why is it needed?
According to the rules of the Indian Parliament, a government must always have majority support in the Lok Sabha in order to remain in power. This means that the government must demonstrate its strength on the floor of the House. If a member of the House feels that the government does not enjoy this majority, then they can move a ‘no-confidence’ motion. If the motion is accepted, then the onus is on the government to defeat the motion in order to prove its majority.
If it is passed by the House, then the council of ministers has to resign. Conversely, the prime minister can also move a ‘confidence’ motion in order to prove the strength of the government in the Lok Sabha.
Who Can Propose A No-Confidence Motion?
As per Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, any member of the house can move a no-confidence motion.
The member has to give a written notice of the motion by 10 am to the Secretary General of the Lok Sabha on any day of sitting. If a notice is received after 10 am, then it considered as being received on the next day of sitting.
The member does not need give a reason for moving a no-confidence motion.
What Happens When A No-Confidence Motion Is Moved & Accepted?
Once a ‘no-confidence’ motion is moved, and the Speaker is of the opinion that the motion is proper, then s/he reads out the motion to the house. A minimum of 50 members have to accept the motion. If not, then the motion fails and the member who moved the motion is informed about it.
Once the motion is accepted, the Speaker will announce a day when the motion is to be discussed. The day cannot be more than 10 days from the day the motion is accepted. The Speaker can allot one day, multiple days, or a part of a day to discuss the motion. S/he can also prescribe a time limit for speeches during the discussion.
The motion is then put to vote at a specified hour or on the last day allotted for discussion. The vote can be conducted through “Voice Vote”, “Division of Votes” or other means.
What Happens When A No-Confidence Motion Is Passed?
If the government loses a ‘confidence’ motion or if the ‘no-confidence’ motion is accepted by the majority, then the government of the day has to resign. There is no time-limit that must be adhered to between two no-confidence motions.
History of the No-Confidence Motion
Before Friday's no-confidence motion, the last time such a motion was taken up in the Parliament was 15 years ago, in 2003. Moved by Sonia Gandhi against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government, the motion was defeated by 314 to 189 votes.
Moreover, the first ever no-confidence was moved in August 1963 against then PM Jawaharlal Nehru by Acharya Kripalani. Indira Gandhi faced the no-confidence motion as many as 15 times. The other PMs who faced the motion in the past were Lal Bahadur Shastri, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao.
The Current Controversy
The first day of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament on Wednesday, 18 July, saw much drama, with Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepting the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion. The Lower House will now debate and vote on the motion on Friday, 20 July.
“The discussion will be held for the full day, followed by voting on it,” Mahajan said. She added that Kesineni Srinivas of the Telugu Desam Party was the first to give his no-confidence notice and, hence, asked him to move the motion supported by over 50 members, including those from the Congress, the TMC, the NCP, the SP, the AAP and the CPI(M).
The no-confidence motion will be moved at 11 am on Friday, following which the debate will carry on till 6 pm. The vote will take place around 8 pm.
The Opposition parties have brought the motion against the government on several issues like the special status to Andhra Pradesh, cow vigilantism, lynchings, atrocities against women and Dalits and alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act, reported PTI.
In the Budget Session too, the Opposition – led by the Telugu Desam Party – had pushed for a no-confidence motion, but the Speaker had then disallowed the notices on the grounds that the House was not in order.
Though the Congress has expressed confidence over the motion, with Sonia Gandhi indicating that they have the requisite numbers, the Modi government is expected to comfortably tide it over, with the NDA having a combined strength of 313 members, out of which 273 (including the Speaker) are from the BJP alone.
(With inputs from Factly, PTI and IANS.)