The lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, has witnessed 27 no-confidence motions since independence.
|The Indian Parliament building in Delhi on August 5, 2019. (AFP)|
Nowadays, opposition parties in Pakistan have filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, which is yet to be voted on. In this context, it is important to look at the history of mistrust against various Prime Ministers in India.
Many countries, including India, including Pakistan, have a British-style parliamentary system, also known as the Westminster system. The term ‘collective responsibility is very important in Parliament.
It is the responsibility of the Council of Ministers to maintain the trust of each other as well as the Parliament. If the Prime Minister loses the confidence of the House, he will have to resign and the government will fall.
The process of measuring collective responsibility is called ‘no confidence’. Opposition parties have filed a no-confidence motion against the Speaker of Parliament. Article 75 of the Constitution of India speaks of collective responsibility while the no-confidence motion is enshrined in Rules of Procedure No. 198 of Parliament.
Any member of the opposition can bring this motion provided it is signed by 50 members of the Lok Sabha. When the Speaker of the Lok Sabha passes this resolution, he is bound to convene a session of the Lok Sabha within 14 days from the date of submission.
After convening the meeting, a debate takes place in the Lok Sabha and then voting is held. This voting can be in the form of word of mouth or distribution.
In voting, the government has to show that it has the support of 272 out of 543 members. The total number of Lok Sabha members is 545 but there are only 543 elected members. Two members are nominated from the Anglo-Andean community.
Speaking of the lower house of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha, a total of 27 no-confidence motions have been tried since independence. The record for the highest number of no-confidence motions is held by Communist Party of India member Jyoti Basu, who has filed the motion four times.
The first no-confidence motion was filed in 1963 against the government of Jawaharlal Nehru, which was unsuccessful. Only 62 votes were cast in its favor. The motion was moved by JP Kirplani.
Remember that this was the time when India had to face defeat in the war with China. JP Kirplani, on the other hand, was angry with Nehru for not being re-elected President of the Indian National Congress
The highest number of no-confidence motions were tabled against Indira Gandhi’s government, which faced 15 no-confidence motions. Three times against the governments of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Narasimha Rao.
Murari Desai, who has also been awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan Pakistan, has twice faced a no-confidence motion against the government. Once upon a time, the governments of Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee also faced this
When did the no-confidence motion succeed, against whom?
Until 1965, the only party dominant in India was the Indian National Congress. In the beginning, since the opposition was like salt in flour, it was considered impossible to overthrow the government through mistrust. Initially, distrust meant that the government would draw attention to the issue at hand.
The importance of mistrust in India began to grow in the 1970s when new parties were emerging and establishing their influence on the basis of caste, language, or region.
For the first time since the 1975 Emergency, a party government other than the Congress has come to power at the Center. This government belonged to the Janata Party.
That Janata Party was not the Bharatiya Janata Party of today but the name of the governing alliance formed by various parties. These included the Congress, the Savatantra Party, the Socialist Party of India, the Bharatiya Jana Singh, and the Lok Dal.
As the balance of politics in India changed after the Emergency, so did the importance of mistrust. In 1978, Murarji Desai had to resign following a second no-confidence motion against his government. The first mistrust was successfully thwarted by the Desai government.
After Desai, Chaudhry Charan Singh became the Prime Minister as his government also stood on the crutches of other parties. A no-confidence motion was filed against Charan Singh in 1979. Avoiding a possible defeat, Charan Singh asked the President of India to dissolve the Lok Sabha.
Similarly, in 1989, when the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its support, VP Singh had to go home. In 1997, Congress withdrew support from the United Front government, led by HDV Gowda, and the government fell. IK Gujral then became the Prime Minister, who lost power a few months later due to a lack of confidence.
In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government was only one vote behind in securing a majority, and eventually, Vajpayee had to resign.
The last no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha was moved by the Telugu Desam Party in 2018, but the Modi government thwarted it by a landslide. Earlier in 2008, the Communist Party of India had tabled a no-confidence motion on the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Manmohan Singh government also managed to show its majority.
In total, seven out of 27 times in the history of the Lok Sabha, various governments have had to go home out of direct distrust or fear of it.
Can the Speaker prevent a member from voting?
no. Under no circumstances can the Speaker of the Lok Sabha stop a Member of Parliament from voting, even if he is going against the party’s instructions.
When a no-confidence motion is moved, each party then issues a notice to its Lok Sabha members to ensure their attendance in the House and to vote as per the party’s instructions, which is called a whip. If a member vote against the Lok Sabha party guidelines, he can be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
How can a member be de-seated by voting against party instructions? This is fully explained in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, also known as the Anti-Defamation Act.
The Speaker cannot prevent any member of the Lok Sabha from casting his vote and the vote of the said member will be counted whichever way he goes.