Since Friday last week, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress have been trying to table a No-Confidence Motion in Parliament against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They have the support of several crucial parties in the opposition, but the BJP has the numbers to withstand the motion. Yet, the motion has not been admitted because of numerous disruptions, typically by allies of the BJP.
While Union Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the party was ready for any discussion, including the No-Confidence Motion, it is clear that the BJP is nervous.
The vote will be won easily enough. But when arch rivals unite to bring about a No-Confidence Motion against the government, it sends a strong message. And when it follows a by-election defeat in a state which the BJP was trying to make its stronghold, it becomes enormously significant.
The Congress, Left and the Trinamool Congress have supported the motion, and even BJP ally Shiv Sena has mocked the ruling party. In addition, the Aam Aadmi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen support the motion, as do 13 other MPs. Only the AIADMK, whose MPs stormed the Well of the House on Monday over the Cauvery dispute, has announced its support for the BJP.
With general elections approaching, it may be time for a reckoning. The BJP claims it rules most of the states, but it has formed a minority government in several. It cobbled together alliances at the last minute and its power in the states is only illusory.
The election results in Uttar Pradesh, and the willingness of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to bury the hatchet and form an alliance with the sole intention of undermining the BJP, indicate just how far the regional parties are willing to go to ensure they have a stake in government.
Several of the Centre’s schemes have proven to be flops, starting with demonetisation.
The conniving ways in which the government has pushed the Aadhaar and its inefficiency in preventing violations of citizens’ privacy have been censured by the Supreme Court.
The reply from the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting to an RTI filed by social activist Ramveer Tanwar recently revealed that the government has spent Rs. 3,755 crore of taxpayer money on advertisements and publicity from its inception to October 2017. This was divided almost equally between print media and electronic media ads including community radio, digital cinema, internet, SMS and television. Aside from this, a sum of Rs. 399 crore was spent on outdoor advertisements, booklets, and calendars.
This is the climate in which the No-Confidence Motion is being called.
The context is significant too. The TDP has been a long-time ally of the BJP, and the decision to pull out of the National Democratic Alliance has not been made lightly. This is about more than special status not being accorded to Andhra Pradesh. It has become symbolic of resistance against the dictatorial nature of the ruling party, with various other members of the Opposition referring to the BJP as “drunk on power”.
More importantly, the BJP’s dream of a foothold in the South is dissipating. Andhra Pradesh heads to an election next year, and the BJP will find it hard to go it alone, without the support of either of the main parties in the state.
The Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka leaves the BJP in a delicate position in both. Having lost Karnataka in the last state election, the BJP has had to deal with the further setback when the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government decided to award the Lingayats the status of a separate religious minority in the state.
The BJP’s emphasis on “one nation” with “one language” has riled regional parties across the country, and its authoritarianism has united a fragmented, even fractured, opposition.
As the ruling party contemplates the first No-Confidence Motion it has faced this term, it must be aware of its various failures. It has not been able to stem the disruption of Parliament every single day of the Budget Session thus far. Having accused the UPA government of corruption, the BJP has now had to deal with the embarrassment of various banking frauds running into thousands of crores on its watch.
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