It has the numbers to beat no-trust move

The BJP has the numbers to coast through Friday’s “no-confidence motion” brought against it by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), but its ambitions appear to be bigger than that.

Friday’s move in Parliament is a good time for the BJP to delineate its political message for the 2019 General Elections, a set piece that will pit Prime Minister Modi against an Opposition that is uniting to take him on.

Senior floor managers of the government remained engaged in meetings and working the phone lines, not only to gather the NDA’s own flock together but also to ensure that non-NDA parties who were friendly would either abstain or vote against the Opposition, thereby showing a mirror to recent talks of a united front against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The party had some good news on Thursday as it made its preparations for the “no-confidence” motion. The AIADMK in Tamil Nadu indicated that it would not be with the Opposition on the motion. Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami cited the party’s isolated position on the Cauvery issue to mark a distance between itself and other Opposition parties. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) too gave mixed signals. NDA ally Shiv Sena, after a phone call between its chief Uddhav Thackeray and BJP president Amit Shah, is likely to support the government.

Contentious history

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been approached by the Congress, but remains confused whether to support a motion sponsored by the TDP of Andhra Pradesh, a party and State with which it has much contentious history, ranging from river water disputes to Kolab power project. “It is likely we may abstain, but let’s see,” said a BJD MP.

Newly-appointed chief whip of the BJP, Anurag Thakur, had a challenging first day at work, whipping up the votes in a party where a few MPs have gone rogue, especially in the last session of Parliament. He did appear to have got through to them.

Both Bahraich MP Savitribai Phule and Choteylal Khairwar of Robertsganj who had raised the banner of revolt against the party over the handling of the agitation by Dalits over reported dilution of the SC/ST Act, will be voting with the party.

“I will vote in favour of the government, but my protests and struggle over the issues I have raised will continue,” Ms. Phule told
The Hindu
.

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