Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government sailed through the No Confidence motion by getting 325 votes, while the Opposition that brought in the motion managed to rustle up just 126 votes after a 12-hour long debate.
That the government would win the trust vote comfortably was never in doubt but the way Modi used the opportunity to showcase his work of last four years, and his oratorical skills, left the opposition stunned and speechless. He used the Lok Sabha to launch his 2019 election campaign and taunted the Congress that he looked forward to another no-confidence motion in 2024. It is a huge boost for the BJP that is likely to give a leg-up to the party in upcoming Assembly elections.
Even as he rebutted each and every charge made by Congress President Rahul Gandhi in his speech, PM Modi underscored his “immaturity” in talking about sensitive issues of national security like the Doklam stand-off, Rafale deal and the surgical strike in a frivolous manner. If the Gandhi scion wanted to project himself as a nice guy and an anti-thesis to Modi by his hug and ‘large-heartedness’, the PM came across as a seasoned leader as against the ‘bachkaana’ (childish) Rahul.
The Opposition had wanted to put the government on the mat by talking about its “failures” including farmers’ distress, atrocities against Dalits, economic slowdown, the opaque Rafale deal and lack of job creation, Modi used the platform to outline all the government’s schemes and successes. He talked about the Ujjwala LPG scheme, the Jan-Dhan bank accounts for the poor, electrification of 18,000 villages, construction of eight crore toilets, ease of doing business, efforts to unearth black money, exposing corruption and implementation of GST.
Modi kept juxtaposing his government’s achievements with the failures of the successive Congress-led or Congress supported governments. He said that the no confidence motion stemmed from a lack of confidence in themselves. He asserted that the Congress, with a strong sense of entitlement, could not tolerate to see the BJP in power. This was reminiscent of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speech as he replied to a no-trust motion against his government in 1999 – that he lost by a single vote. Vajpayee too had said that the opposition had ganged up to defeat his government as they could not digest the fact that the BJP – a party that they looked down upon as a baniya-brahmin party – could emerge as a single largest party and dare to lead a coalition government in the country.
Modi started his speech by saying that his government was the first majority government in 30 years and 125 crore people of the country had reposed their trust in it. The no confidence motion was an exercise in futility and should never have come. He mocked the Congress saying that it was the people of the country who had elected him and only they could dislodge him. He said, people were the ‘bhagya-vidhaata’ and not the Congress.
Modi singled out Congress as a target of his attack. He said that the party was used to destabilizing governments which were not led by the “family”. In addition to the Vajpayee government, he cited the examples of governments led by Chaudhary Charan Singh, Chandrashekhar, Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujaral.
Turning Rahul’s charge, of him being a ‘bhaagidar’(shareholder) and not a ‘chowkidaar’, to his advantage, Modi said that he was proud of being a bhaagidar, and that he was a bhaagidar in the sorrows and problems of farmers, labourers, the poor and the deprived. He said that at least he was not a “saudagar’ (deal-maker) and a ‘thekedar’ (contractor) like the Congress.
Modi also replied to Rahul’s comment that the PM could not look him in the eyes. Making it about Gandhi scion’s lineage and his own humble background, Modi said that he dare not look into Rahul’s eyes. “Aap naamdar hain, main ek kaamdar hun. I am a man with humble origins, an OBC. How can I look into your eyes,” he asked a serious looking Rahul. Modi went on to recount names of people, who he said had dared to look the Congress in its eye and paid for it. The names included Subhas Chandra Bose, Morarji Desai, Jai Prakash Narain, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Chandrashekhar, Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar.
Talking about eyes, Modi couldn’t help but take a dig at Rahul’s wink after hugging him. “What you did with your eyes has been seen by everyone on TV and is the talk of the town,” said Modi with a smile.