Why neither Congress nor BJP was keen on a trust vote

Talk of the Congress seeking a confidence ended almost as soon as it started. The Congress does not want to risk it for now.

Sanjay Singh August 27, 2012 19:43:39 IST
Why neither Congress nor BJP was keen on a trust vote

New Delhi: Is a beleaguered UPA government thinking of asking for a confidence vote in the Lok Sabha to blunt the BJP's direct attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? The speculation, said to be based on a one-line off-the-record cryptic remark of a senior Congress leader, exploded in all ferocity on Monday afternoon. But the rumour died as soon as it arose.

As speculation raged and hurried calculations were being made on the numbers available to either side, Finance Minister P Chidamabaram, flanked by two of his ministerial colleagues, Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni, rejected the idea of a confidence vote. "This government enjoys the confidence of Parliament and the people. There is no reason for us to seek a confidence vote," he asserted. Chidambaram is also chairman of the Group of Ministers on media.

Why neither Congress nor BJP was keen on a trust vote

Parliament of India. Reuters

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had earlier made similar assertions in Parliament House. "Where was the question of a confidence motion? Nobody has suggested that UPA does not have the numbers, nor has anyone pulled out of the ruling coalition, which could necessitate any such move for the government."

Sources said there was some thinking in the UPA about seeking a confidence vote, but several sections in the Congress party were against it. A confidence vote puts the government, howsoever confident it may be, to the stress of marshalling the numbers on the floor of the house. It was indeed a Herculean task for the strategists, both from the ruling and opposition benches, to prove the numbers on their side. The onus, of course, remains more on the government.

When a trust vote is moved by the government it becomes easier for the opposition to unite, without caring much for ideological contradictions. A no-trust moved by the BJP would be difficult for parties like the Left and Samajwadi to back, but a trust vote moved by the ruling party would have been different.

While the Congress could possibly have mustered the majority, it could not have assumed that the contradictions within its camp too would not have surfaced. Every ally has his price, and parties like the Samajwadi, Bahujan Samaj Party and Trinamool Congress have always been fair-weather partners of the UPA. The Vajpayee Government had lost a confidence motion by one vote, one leader pointed out.

Conversely, bringing a no-confidence motion is tougher for the BJP, since not many parties would have wanted to be seen as batting for it. This was one reason why the BJP, despite all its confrontationist approach with the government, shied away from any such initiative.

BJP leader Prakash Javdekar tried to put a different spin on it. "Coalgate is a question of morality not majority."

Meanwhile with Parliament remaining stalled, both the Congress and the BJP are holding their debates through media conferences in order to hog more airtime and news print, not to speak of cyberspace.

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