January 25, 2021
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They Did Not Have 273

They Did Not Have 273

In the end, the Congress-led UPA was left red-faced when it showed abysmal floor-management and allowed the Constitution Amendment Bill that was required to be passed for making the Lokpal into a constitutional body to be defeated in Lok Sabha.

The rules are very simple:

Special Majority

8.Constitution Amendment Bills have to be passed in each House of Parliament by a special majority ie. by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House “present and voting”. The expression “total membership” means the total number of members comprising the House irrespective of whether there are vacancies or absentees on any account. The expression “present and voting”, means members who vote for “ayes” or for “noes”. Members who are present in the House and vote “abstention” either through the electronic vote recorder or on a voting slip or in any other manner, are not treated as “present and voting.”

The Bill, which was an idea of Rahul Gandhi to give constitutional status to Lokpal, failed to muster the required two-third majority of those present and voting in all the three clauses.

The House witnessed high drama as voting on the three clauses showed that the ruling side had failed to get the required number of 273 in favour, prompting Speaker Meira Kumar to drop the clause from the bill.

On the Clause two, 247 voted in favour and 178 against, while in Clause three 251 were in favour and 179 against. Clause one received 250 and 180 against.

Leave alone its allies like Samajwadi and RJD which walked out, as many as 25 Congress MPs are reported to have been missing from the Lok Sabha when it came to voting and division. The UPA strength is 277, including five MPs of Ajit Singh's RLD, which recently joined the alliance.

The debate now shifts to Rajya Sabha where the UPA does not have a majority and chances are that the BJP would like to pass Lokpal with its own amendments and then move it back to Lok Sabha, thus placing a question mark over the Lokpal Bill itself.

In the 245-member House, the Congress and its allies NCP, DMK, Trinamool Congress, LJP and RLD together have 93 members.

Parties supporting the government from outside -- BSP (18), SP (5) and RJD (4) -- account for 27 crucial votes.

These three parties had walked out of the Lok Sabha before voting on the Lokpal Bill tonight but their absence did not matter much because the bill required only a simple majority and it was passed by a voice vote.

But the absence of 42 MPs from these three parties in the Lok Sabha spelt disaster for the government in the Constitutional Amendment Bill which required a special majority for passage.

If the three parties absent themselves during voting in the Rajya Sabha, then the government has a lot to worry.

IF it were just a question of passing the Lokpal Bill, a joint session may have broken the logjam, the problem for the UPA is the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which Team Anna had always been pointing out would not be able to be passed, for which:

14. In case of any disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament on a Constitution Amendment Bill, there cannot be a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament on the Bill as article 368 of the Constitution requires each House to pass the Bill by the prescribed special majority. 

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