It will also be worth watching if the BJP has succeeded in causing breaks within the UPA.
When the Telugu Desam Party, and others, had sought to move a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Budget Session of Parliament, the move was stalled. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan took the plea that the House was not in order. For reasons unknown, she didn’t deem it her duty to use the enormous powers at her disposal to bring the House to order.
However, on the very first day of the Monsoon Session on Wednesday, the Speaker has allowed the no-trust move. The discussion and vote will take place today. What is behind this change in stance?
The most likely explanation is that the government is reassured on two counts: that its own ranks — the BJP bloc, as well as the NDA’s remaining allies after the TDP’s exit — stand united behind it despite all the murmuring over the past year or so; and two, that the ruling side has been able to ensure the support of neutral elements (those not in the NDA or UPA), for example AIADMK, TRS and BJD. It will also be worth watching if the BJP has succeeded in causing breaks within the UPA.
In case the government is actively considering advancing the Lok Sabha polls to the end of this year, along with some Assembly elections, instead of waiting until March-April 2019, this might be the perfect time to show the country how united the NDA is; and also that its opponents’ efforts to rally together to defeat the BJP led by PM Narendra Modi are no more than a work in progress. In effect, then, the ongoing Parliament session may just turn out to be the last sitting of the present Lok Sabha.
Will the BJP’s NDA allies cohere? BJP president Amit Shah has been engaging in high-profile diplomacy of late, meeting Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and JD(U) chief and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Evidently, the saffron party draws comfort from these interactions. And that would be quite enough for the purposes of political signalling.
The debate on the no-confidence motion will give the government a fresh opportunity to craft a massive public relations narrative about the past four years, which are widely seen as not being very successful in addressing the needs of ordinary people. The points that emerge will no doubt be used to enthuse its cadres.
That being the case, why has the Opposition succumbed to the temptation of moving a no-trust motion since defeating the government on the floor of the Lok Sabha seems out of the question? Perhaps the belief outside the NDA is that a debate in Parliament will oblige the government to give out at least some authentic information in the public domain. As elections approach, for both sides, perception management is gaining importance.