After a raging 12-hour debate, the Narendra Modi Government won the no-confidence motion by 325 votes against 126 votes in the Lok Sabha. 126 MPs voted for the motion. The day-long session in the House saw the government and the opposition trade charges and a moment of drama when Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, after a blistering speech, walked over to hug the Prime Minister.
The figure of 325 was a little surprising especially after the 18-member Shiv Sena abstained from voting. A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the ruling party, which initially had the support of 314 MPs, pulled some rabbits out of its hat at the last minute.
BJP sources said that the defeating no-trust vote by a comfortable margin had become possible only after party chief Amit Shah took an active interest in getting extra support from the 37 AIADMK MPs.
Modi’s heaping praise on the TRS leadership also could have affected the votes of their 11 MPs in their favour.
The smooth sail also comes after Modi, in a point-by-point rebuttal to Gandhi’s attack earlier in the day, ripped into the Opposition by mocking at Gandhi’s hug, saying the Congress chief was actually dreaming to be the next PM, so he had asked him to get up from his seat.
He said the opposition was enacting a drama and coming together “to remove one Modi”.
The Prime Minister said the no confidence motion has exposed how the opposition is hungry for power.
Earlier, while addressing the Lok Sabha during the no-confidence motion debate, Gandhi had capped off his blistering attack by hugging the prime minister, taking everyone present by surprise.
After his no-holds-barred attack, he walked across the green-carpeted Well of House and shook Modi’s hands. The PM, however, ignored his call to stand. Nevertheless, the Congress chief embraced him even as he remained seated.
Modi initially looked nonplussed but recovered quickly and called Gandhi back and patted him on the back.
In a move that dominated news cycle all day, Gandhi then proceeded to deliver the knockout punch – a wink.
Gandhi presented it as his show of love for the BJP despite its ‘abuses’, including calling him ‘pappu’.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan pulled him up for both the hug and the wink, saying he was disrespecting the PM’s chair.“The PM was on his seat which commands respect. Why will I oppose hugging? That wink wasn’t proper.”
Though Rahul’s peace gesture initially caught the treasury side off-guard, the BJP decided to go on the offensive and moved a privilege motion against the Congress leader for putting forth ‘misleading’ the Parliament and ‘violating House rules’. BJP MP Prahlad Joshi submitted a notice for privilege against Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
Gandhi had alleged that the French president had clearly conveyed to him that there was no problem in sharing details relating to the Rafale deal worth Rs.58,000 crore. Countering his allegations, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said all charges are ‘absolutely wrong’, adding that the initial agreement for the deal was signed when the UPA was in power in 2008.
Sitharaman’s statement was endorse by France after a French Foreign Affairs spokesman said in a statement that, “France and India concluded in 2008 a security agreement, which legally binds the two states to protect the classified information provided by the partner. These provisions naturally apply to the IGA (Inter-government agreement) concluded on September 23, 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons.”