Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a point-by-point rebuttal to the attack of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
New Delhi: After a marathon 12-hour debate, the Narendra Modi government has won the trust vote in the Lok Sabha by a comfortable margin on Friday evening. The debate that started at 11 in the morning ended up with a trust vote minutes after 11 pm on Friday. The session witnessed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was smiling when Congress president was delivering his statement, tear into the Opposition and Rahul Gandhi in his speech that last for one and a half hour.
The House, on Friday, witnessed scenes which were never seen before. After delivering a scathing speech, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had crossed the Lok Sabha floor and hugged the Prime Minister. The PM shook Rahul Gandhi's hands but ignored his call to stand so that he could hug the BJP leader. PM Modi initially looked nonplussed and did not stand up to hug him, but recovered quickly and called Gandhi back, pulling him by his sleeves, and patted him on the back.
Late in the evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a point-by-point rebuttal to the attack. He also took on Sonia Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose party TDP had moved the no-confidence motion.
Here are the top points to this big story:
- A total of 325 MPs opposed while 126 MPs supported the no-trust motion moved by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), a former BJP ally. A total of 451 MPs were present and voted in the House and the majority mark required in a House with an effective strength of 534 MPs came down to 226.
- The strength of the House dwindled after Naveen Patnaik's BJD, Telangana's ruling party TRS and BJP ally Shiv Sena abstained the voting. Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK voted in support of the government.
- After the voting, Union minister Ananth Kumar said the fractured Opposition unity was revealed by the BJD and the Telangana party, which stayed away. "Shiv Sena has supported us. Other parties like the AIADMK voted for us," he added.
- "Arrogance is behind the no-confidence motion," PM Modi said in his reply and hit out at the Congress, saying this is not the floor test of the government but a "force" test of the main opposition party and its so-called allies.
- The Prime Minister said the only thing they have to say is- 'remove Modi'. "We are 'bhagidars' (collaborator) to people's dreams, to the poor people of the country. I am 'chowkidar' and 'bhagidar', but not a 'saudagar' (trader) or 'thekedar' (contractor) like you," PM Modi said during the course of his 90-minute speech in a blunt retort to Rahul Gandhi that drew cheers from the Treasury benches.
- In his response to the debate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also showcased the achievements of his government -- electrification of 18,000 villages, healthcare for all, LPG for the poor, initiatives for farmers, One-rank one pension (OROP) for soldiers, the flagship Goods and Services tax (GST) and the strengthening of economy.
- Targeting Sonia Gandhi over her recent statement on numerical strength of the parties supporting the no-confidence motion, PM Modi said he was reminded of 1999, when she joined other parties to challenge the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "She stood outside Rashtrapati Bhavan and said, 'We have 272 and more are joining us'. She destabilised Atal-Ji's government and never formed one herself," the PM said.
- Taking on Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on Rafale, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "They raised Rafale issue and I was surprised... Due to one careless allegation in the House on Rafale, both nations had to release statements. Does this childish behaviour befit anybody?"
- The Prime Minister was seen laughing when Gandhi persisted with his comments that PM Modi was unable to look him in his eyes on the issue of the controversial Rafale deal. "Who am I to look you in the eyes. I am a "kaamdar" and you are a "naamdar"," PM Modi responded and made a veiled reference to Gandhi's wink, saying, "The entire country saw what the eyes did today. It is clear in front of everyone" "History is witness to the fact that Congress has always insulted those who tried to look them in the eyes."
- Earlier on Friday, Rahul Gandhi alleged that the government's deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets was massively overpriced and its claim that details could not be revealed was an "untruth". He said when PM Modi went to France, "with some magic" powers, the price per plane increased to Rs 1,600 crore, much more than the Rs 520 crore when the Congress was in power.
- France put out a statement saying the two governments had sealed a security pact in 2008, which legally binds them to protect classified information. The BJP has moved a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi for his allegations against the Prime Minister.
- The stinging attack on the Congress by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his response to allegations against the government and Rahul Gandhi accusing the PM of being a 'bhagidar' (collaborator) in corruption and not a 'chowkidar' and saying people were victims of his 'jumla' (gimmicks) strikes virtually set the stage for an intense face-off during the 2019 polls.
- Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi without naming him, the Prime Minister said, "It is a trial for getting other parties' support for his PM's candidature. But others too have ambitions." "In the morning, the voting was not over, the debate was also not over one member comes running to me saying- Utho Utho Utho...(get up get up...). What is his hurry to come to power? Let me tell this member it is the people who elected us. That is how we have come here: In a democracy don't be in a hurry." Confident the NDA will return to power next year, he taunted the Congress and other opposition parties on two occasions, "I am asking you to bring this no-confidence motion in 2024."
- The victory of the BJP-led NDA government was not unexpected but the intense debate gave an opportunity to the leaders of rival parties to set the agenda for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
- The no-trust motion was the first after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in May 2014 and less than a year before 2019 general elections.
(With inputs from PTI)