LETTHE POLL GAMES BEGIN
Nitin Gadkari throws a no-confidence motion googly at the Government, sending pundits into number-crunching mode
Nitin Gadkari has floated a typical mid-term balloon filled with toxic helium into the political stratosphere with the “casual” suggestion of a no-confidence motion against the Government. The BJP president knows even his own party may not buy his suggestion but it’s the right kind of provocation on the eve of a difficult and possibly turbulent winter session of Parliament starting on November 22.
The BJP may not even actually move a no-confidence motion but Gadkari’s statement in Lucknow, in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on October 30, sent political pundits into a frenzy of number-crunching. Gadkari’s aim appears to have been achieved as it is apparent that in order to survive a possible no-confidence motion, the Congress-led UPA will need either the support of Samajwadi Party ( SP) or the Bahujan Samajwadi Party ( BSP). He says the two parties and Congress project one another as rivals but they actually have a tacit understanding. “In case a no-confidence motion is brought by the BJP in Parliament’s winter session, the stand taken by SP and BSP will make it clear whether these parties are really against Congress or not,” Gadkari said.
A look at the numbers in Lok Sabha, given the dynamic political scenario, reveals that the Congress could be in an embarrassing spot in case of a no-confidence motion. “The UPA can claim around 260 members in the Lok Sabha when it needs 272 to reach the halfway mark. It is the cru- cial difference which makes Congress vulnerable,” says a BJP member.
With the Congress at 207 seats, the UPA includes Trinamool Congress (18), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ( DMK) (18), Nationalist Congress Party (9), National Conference (3), Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (2), Muslim League (2) and All India Majlis-e-ittehadul Muslimeen (1), making it 260. Support from BSP (21) or SP (22) will make it easier for the Congress to reach the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha. If both choose to vote against the government, the Congress will then have to bank on Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (4), Janata Dal (Secular) (3) and hope that Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal comes on board with its five members. It will also have to lure the nine independents and dangle the statehood carrot at Telangana Rashtra Samithi for its two MPS.
A veteran BJP member says that Congress cannot even take the support of allies like DMK and Nationalist Congress Party for granted. “The NCP’S Sharad Pawar will demand a bailout from the Lavasa controversy. DMK, too, will demand its pound of flesh to get its Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi out of Tihar Jail. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will probably get the Congress to give her party proprietary rights over the Railways. Coalition dharma will cost the Congress heavy,” he says.
Within BJP, opinion is divided over the feasibility of moving a no-confidence motion. An executive committee member of BJP’S Parliamentary Party thinks that this is not the right
time. “For a party like Congress, it will not be difficult to buy support. A no-confidence motion may not be a good idea since the Government could come out triumphant at a time when its stock is at an all-time low,” says the BJP leader.
Gadkari told INDIA TODAY that there has been no decision on moving a noconfidence motion. “The decision has to be taken by BJP’S Parliamentary Party. I was merely talking about a hypothetical situation,” he says. BJP is of the view that if there has to be a noconfidence motion, it should be moved by the Left and not by the BJP.
Janata Dal (United) leader and NDA convener Sharad Yadav says that a decision like bringing in a no-confidence motion needed proper consideration. “There has been no mention of it at the level of NDA yet,” he says. ■
GADKARI (CENTRE) WITH BJP LEADERS S.P. SHAHI (LEFT) AND KALRAJ MISHRA