As the Speaker of Lok Sabha admitted the no-confidence motion against the BJP-led NDA government and decided that the discussion will happen on Friday, it was reported by news agencies that BJP’s longtime alliance partner Shiv Sena issued a whip on Thursday evening to all its Members of Parliament (MP) to remain present in the house and vote in favour of the government.
However, within 14 hours of this written whip being issued by Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire, the party announced in Delhi on Friday morning that their MPs will abstain from voting and will not support the Modi government! Sena said that it had not told its MPs anything on Thursday evening. Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the party had decided to abstain. This is the first big indication that Shiv Sena is now showing signs of getting alienated from its longtime ally BJP.
The Sena has been consistently targeting the BJP over the past one-and-a-half years and threatening to resign from the government in Maharashtra. The relations between Sena and BJP stooped to its lowest after their clashes during the 2017 Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections. The Sena feels that the BJP is encroaching on their space in Mumbai as well as in Maharashtra’s other cities and districts. But for obvious reasons, it has not mustered the courage to actually do so.
In the 534-member House, the ruling NDA has the support of 315 MPs and the UPA 63. The focus today was on the Shiv Sena, BJD, AIADMK and TRS, which have 18, 19, 37 and 11 MPs respectively. With the Shiv Sena and the BJD skipping the session, the number of MPs in the House is now down to 497, ie 534 - (18+19). The ruling dispensation requires 249 votes to defeat the motion.
Of the NDA’s 315 MPs, the BJP has 274, including Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, the Shiv Sena has 18, the Lok Janshakti Party has 6, the Shiromani Akali Dal has 4, RLSP has 3, and other small parties total to 10 seats in Lok Sabha.
Of UPA’s 63 members, the Congress has 48, the NCP has 7, RJD 4, IUML 2 and JMM 2. Also, regional parties AIADMK has 37 MPs in the House, the Trinamool Congress has 34, TDP has 16 MPs, TRS has 11, CPM has 9, the Samajwadi Party has 7, AAP has four, YSR Congress Party has 4, AIUDF has 3 and 12 other MPs from smaller parties taking the total to 156.
A national newspaper reported on Friday that a BJD MP announced that the party will not be participating in the debate citing the discussion was ‘fruitless’ for the people of Odisha.
“The last UPA government and the current NDA government have not helped the people of Odisha so we don’t see the point of participating in this debate.”
It’s going to be tough for the BJP in the 2019 polls if their alliance partners of 2014 like TDP and Sena are not with them.
The big challenge for the BJP is to keep all these alliance partners close.