Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Vajpayee Government Defeats No-confidence Motion in Lower House

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government defeated the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion in Lower House by 312 to 186 votes Tuesday nightafter a marathon debate.


Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government defeated the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion in Lower House by 312 to 186 votes Tuesday nightafter a marathon debate.

Earlier, replying to the motion, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee attacked the Opposition for bringing a no-confidence motion against the government without any valid reason and took exception to the nine-point chargesheet leveled by Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi accusing government of endangering national security and jeopardizing defence.

"It is a peculiar thing that words like chargesheet are used byone party against another and ultimatum is being given. This is not a good thing," Vajpayee said intervening in the two-day debateon the no-confidence motion placed by Gandhi Monday.

The Prime Minister said he has been in Parliament since 1957 but he had never seen such a no-confidence motion.

"A no-trust motion is brought when a government is on the vergeof collapse or to keep it on its toes. But I wonder why such a motion has been moved now when there is no question of our government breaking nor do you intend to break it," he said in a spirited speech.

Maintaining that the debate on the no-confidence motion has notthrown any light on the intention behind the Opposition move, Vajpayee said that the Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi's charge that the Government had endangered internal security or jeopardized national defence was not acceptable.

A visibly agitated Prime Minister took exception to the allegation that the government had "mortgaged" its foreign policy,saying if it was true India would had sent its troops to Iraq.

"Do you think India is so cheap that anyone can mortgage it ?" he asked in an aggressive tone.

"How have we weakened national security? Doesn't the Opposition need to provide proof before making such charges?" Vajpayee asked.

Contending that there was always consensus on India's foreign policy, the Prime Minister said that the Opposition was trying to divide the House on the issue into camps.

Expressing shock over the words like "insensitive, irresponsible and brazenly corrupt" used by Gandhi to attack the coalition government, Vajpayee said that in the political field there might be differences "but what sort of style is this to express it."

Vajpayee also took exception to Sonia Gandhi's assertion that his government had "betrayed" the mandate of the people.

Asking who made Opposition the judge in this regard, the Prime Minister said that the government would be there till the people wants.

"The trial of strength will be there in the Assembly elections," he said, adding, one should never lose sight of dignity and decorum as abuses would not solve problems.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi said that the Vajpayee government had no explanation for its failure on all fronts.

"Even after over 20 hours of debate, the government has failed to properly answer the charges.... they can try to hide their omissions and commissions, but they have to reply to the people."

For Prime Minister Vajpayee, it was the third time that he was proving the strength of his government on the floor of the House.

On two earlier occasions Vajpayee had lost out to the Opposition. First in 1998 after being in the chair for 13 days when he failed to get the required numbers. Then in 1999, after having spent 13 months, Jayalalitha's withdrawal of support being the reason this time.

In the 543 member house, the ruling coalition enjoys a comfortable majority with 273 MPs of its own and another 50 from others supporting it from outside.

The Opposition on the other hand has only 208 members including109 from the Congress.

Political analysts said that the Opposition is not looking to bring down the government since the ruling coalition has a comfortable majority in the Lower House.

For the Congress party, the entire debate is more about unitingagainst the Bharatiya Janata Party and kickstarting the political campaign for important assembly elections later this year.

by Xiong Changyi

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