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No confidence vote: Outcome known, BJP & Opposition hope to score propaganda points

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No confidence vote: Outcome known, BJP & Opposition hope to score propaganda points

~By Rajesh Sinha

The four-year-old NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces its first motion of no-confidence on Friday, July 20.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who had repeatedly turned down notices for such a motion during the Budget session, on Wednesday admitted a notice moved by the Telugu Desam Party. While the outcome of a confidence vote was a foregone conclusion – even in the Budget session – the opposition parties intend to use it to make an all out attack on the government on a range of issues: In the normal course, they would have to give notice for a discussion on each of the topics separately. A no-confidence motion removes this limitation.

BJP was wary of having such a debate during Budget session, with the crucial Karnataka assembly election – for BJP under Amit Shah’s presidentship, every election is crucial – about to come up.

Now, the BJP leadership reckons, it suits the party. Media reports quoting BJP sources said that the change in the government’s approach to allow the no-confidence vote was driven by party president Amit Shah. He convinced the rest of the leadership that the debate on the no-confidence motion would afford the government the opportunity to expose the Opposition narrative and also its lack of unity.

The BJP felt that once the no-trust vote is debated and defeated, the Opposition would not have any excuse to disrupt proceedings of the House.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will reply to the debate, is expected to use the occasion as a launching pad for the 2019 campaign.

“We will put the welfare schemes and development projects carried out by the government in last four years before the people,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.

A BJP leader said the government’s numbers would also work to its advantage as more lawmakers from the ruling coalition would get an opportunity to speak on the motion than the Opposition because of its sheer strength in the Lok Sabha: Parties are allocated time in debates according to their strength in parliament.

The debate on the motion is likely to go on beyond the normal time of 6 pm for the House. PM Narendra Modi, who will be the last speaker in the debate, will have people of the country watching him as they come home and sit down to watch TV.

The PM’s speech is expected to be a veritable launch of his Lok Sabha election campaign.

Some analysts wrote that the PM could use the no-confidence motion debate to call for an early election. Winning the vote to retain his projected image of being ‘unbeatable’ would be an opportune time, especially in view of the weak footing the BJP finds itself in for the assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram Assembly polls in November-December.

Modi-Shah led BJP, which has been rooting for simultaneous elections, would stand a better chance if the Lok Sabha polls are also called at the same time, argue these analysts.

The Opposition would hope its speakers succeed in conveying to the people why nearly all Opposition parties are against the Modi government. They will speak on a host of issues – price rise, lynchings, Jammu & Kashmir, foreign policy, flight of capital, increase in deposits by Indians in Swiss banks, fleeing of economic offenders from India, atrocities on Dalits and security of women.

The Congress was not too happy at TDP’s motion being admitted. Eight notices of no confidence in the Council of Ministers were received as the monsoon session of Parliament commenced. Three notices came from the TDP, two from the Congress, and one each from the NCP, CPM, and RSP.

The Speaker allowed TDP MP Kesineni Srinivas’ notice given to protest denial of a special package for Andhra Pradesh. She said Srinivas’ notice was the “first in point of time”, said some media reports (– though some others said it was done by lottery; the confusion remains).

Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress’ designated leader in Lok Sabha, reportedly made his party’s displeasure known on the floor of the House at the Speaker’s decision.

The reason is, it is the party which initiates the motion that will open the debate and get enough time to make its point. All other parties would get time as per their strength, and those parties would have to make adjustments accordingly, especially if they have more than one speaker.

The BJP and most of media hype is about the result of the no-confidence vote and the numbers game. That, however, is no secret. The 13-party NDA has 315 MPs in the House where the current effective strength is 536, instead of 545, there being nine vacancies. The government needs 269 votes to defeat the no-confidence motion.

The BJP has 274, including rebel MPs Shatrughan Sinha and Kirti Azad who stand to lose their membership if they defy the party whip to vote against the motion.

The UPA comprising the Congress, NCP, RJD, IUML, JMM and Kerala Congress Mani, has 64 MPs. The Congress has 48.

Other parties, including Independents, have 157 MPs.

The numbers explain the quickness with which the Speaker returned after lunch break to list discussions on the no-confidence motion on July 20. She said the entire business of the House, question hour, zero hour and private members’ Bills, will be suspended that day to take up the notice.

It was false confidence shown by Sonia Gandhi when she said: “Who told you the Opposition does not have the numbers?”

But then, one rarely ever says ‘we know are going to lose’.

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Lok Sabha Elections: Voter turnout 62.02% in Tamil Nadu till 5pm

The voter turnout in Tamil Nadu stands at 62.02%, while Uttar Pradesh records a turnout of 57.5%. Meanwhile, in West Bengal, voter participation surges to 77.5% as of 5 pm.

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The Lok Sabha elections 2024 began today, marking the onset of the world’s largest electoral event. Voting ended in all 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu with a total voter turnout of 62.02%. State BJP chief and Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency candidate K Annamalai said, they were getting complaints from a large number of voters that their names were missing from the voters’ list.

This incident happened in many places. Annamalai said they are demanding re-poll in places where the names of a large number of voters were missing.He said they had a doubt that there was some political interference because the names of a large number of BJP caders were missing from the voters list.

 The voters in South Chennai showed lukewarm interest to participate in the election process and had a total voter turnout of 57.04% till 5pm. Although the overall percentage is poor, some areas like Thiruvanmiyur witnessed brisk polling from 7am onwards. Elderly, middle aged and young voters turned up and it was a family outing for many as they cast their vote.

Corporation volunteers assisted senior citizens with wheelchairs and guided them to their respective polling booths. The hot weather also had an impact on the polling as it reduced the voter turnout as many booths in the corporation school in MGR Nagar were seen deserted around noon. Senior citizens showed courage as they reached the polling booths in private vehicles to exercise their franchise.

Most of the polling booths had shamianas for voters so that they could wait in a queue. Some people even found refuge in the nearby buildings to save themselves from the scorching heat. The polling officials gave instructions to the voters to keep their phones switched off while they exercised their franchise. The security personnel at the polling booth also regulated traffic outside the polling booth in MGR Nagar.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Deserted by key supporters, the Kamal Nath story looks set to wind to an end in Chhindwara

Nath’s closest allies in his near 50-year reign—Deepak Saxena and Kamlesh Shah—have deserted him. His local team of corporators has also decided to jump ship leaving a gaping hole in Nath’s campaign trail.

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By Neeraj Mishra

The Congress has lost Chhindwara only once since Independence when the wily Sunderlal Patwa was sent there by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to test Kamal Nath’s hold on the constituency. Patwa won the 1997 by-election by a slim margin in the backdrop of Nath having forced his wife to first contest and later vacate the seat for him. Nath, however, returned to his winning ways the very next year and has won the seat nine times.

It seems possible that Chhindwara, the lone surviving Congress seat, will be lost again this time and may be forever. A day ahead of polling, the town was drowned in saffron. Not so much the effect of vigorous campaigning by Vivek Sahu of the BJP but the Ram Navami festival which brought out saffron flags on every rooftop.  The effect is likely to last since the polling is today. At 77, Nath is unlikely to contest another election here and his son Nakul seems like a pale shadow of his father unable to even make a forceful speech. The days of running Chhindwara from Shikarpur kothi are gone.

Nath’s closest allies in his near 50-year reign—Deepak Saxena and Kamlesh Shah—have deserted him. His local team of corporators has also decided to jump ship leaving a gaping hole in Nath’s campaign trail. Nakul had won by a margin of 37,000 votes in 2019 and the biggest lead had come from Kamlesh’s Amarwada Assembly segment. With Saxena in control of Chhindwara and forced to show his strength in his new party, it is highly likely that Nakul will not be depending on these segments. Instead, the Congress campaign was focused on Pandhurna, Parasia and Chaurai.

Amit Shah was in the region a couple of days ago and warned all BJP workers—old and new—against lethargy. His message was clear, the BJP wants all 29 seats this time. Cabinet Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya is camped here and using all his political acumen for the desired results. One such tactic was to raid the Shikarpur Kothi of Kamal Nath for his assistant Miglani who handles almost everything for him. With Miglani temporarily neutralised, BJP is best placed to repeat its win in Chhindwara in 1997.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Lok Sabha Elections 2024:  Nearly 40% voter turnout till 1pm

Chennai recorded an average voter turnout of 34% as of 1 pm on Friday. According data released by the Election Commission of India, Chennai (North) recorded 35%, Chennai (Central) recorded 32.3% and Chennai (South) recorded 34%.

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The first phase of voting for the 18th Lok Sabha elections started taking place in 21 states and Union territories on Friday. Nearly 40% voter turnout was recorded till 1pm across the states. Seats in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Puducherry go to elections on Friday.

There has been a substantial increase in the voter turnout charts across the Northeast states, with Tripura leading at 53.04% until 1 pm, as per the data released by the Election Commission of India. Other northeast states like Manipur (46.92%) and Meghalaya (48.91%) are also witnessing high voter turnout. After Tripura, West Bengal is experiencing a high voter turnout of 50.96%.

Chennai recorded an average voter turnout of 34% as of 1 pm on Friday. According data released by the Election Commission of India, Chennai (North) recorded 35%, Chennai (Central) recorded 32.3% and Chennai (South) recorded 34%.

Over 33% voter turnout was recorded in the first 6 hours of voting on Friday in 12 parliamentary constituencies of Rajasthan. According to the Election Commission, voting started at 7 am amid tight security arrangements and 33.73 % voting took place till 1 pm. The highest voter turnout of 40.72 % was recorded in the Ganganagar Lok Sabha seat while Karauli-Dholpur saw the lowest turnout of 28.32 %. Jaipur recorded a poll percentage of 39.35 %.

Over 37 % voter turnout was recorded till 1 pm in the Lok Sabha election being held for five parliamentary constituencies in Uttarakhand on Friday. Elections began at 7 am and the five constituencies recorded an overall poll percentage of 37.33 % up to 1 pm. The Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar seat recorded the highest turnout of 40.46 %, followed by Haridwar with 39.41%, Pauri Garhwal with 36.60 %, Tehri Garhwal with 35.29 % and Almora with 32.29 %.

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