Sunday, December 10, 2023

Majority and majoritarian

Convinced that the prime minister Narendra Modi wasn’t going to humour them by speaking about Manipur in parliament and neither would a discussion be held under Rule 267 as petitioned, the opposition bloc under the nomenclature INDIA adopted a tactic of moving a no-confidence motion against the NDA government and which was accepted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 26. The no-confidence motion against the government was a political ploy to get the prime minister to come to Parliament and speak about the tragedy unfolding in the northeastern state which has seen over 150 deaths, cases of sexual assaults, and has over 60,000 people homeless. Debate on the motion took place on three days from August 8 and concluded on August 10. Right from day one, when the debate on the No Confidence Motion began, it was clear that the opposition bloc INDIA had no chance of defeating the government on the floor of the house. On paper, NDA has a majority with a number of 331 MPs out of which the BJP has 303 MPs while the combined strength of the Opposition bloc I.N.D.I.A is 144. The numbers of unaligned parties’ MPs are 70 in the Lower House. Initiating the debate on the motion in the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi posed a series of three questions focused on Manipur — why the prime minister had not visited Manipur, why it took 80 days to break the silence on the state and why he had not sacked Manipur chief minister N.Biren Singh who has been accused of presiding over a biased administration? Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi, drew attention with his eloquent speech. Gogoi gave a memorable speech largely focussing on Manipur and which may have been the best speech of the entire debate. Gogoi also put forward three demands, saying the opposition wanted Modi to visit Manipur, lead an all-party delegation to the north-eastern state and make sincere efforts to restore peace by meeting various organisations there. For three days, speakers from the opposition bloc INDIA focussed on facts to target the failures of the Modi government on Manipur. The opposition raised pertinent issues regarding total breakdown of law and order in Manipur and how the situation has worsened and taken the form of anarchy. Mobs rule the roost while the chief minister has been accused of patronising a private armed militia and rendering the state police totally partisan. The reactions and responses from the government at the Centre has been disappointing. Instead of responding to the opposition charges, the government resorted to ‘whataboutery’ which by default, attempted to justify whatever wrong that’s happening. Even the home minister, while rejecting justified demands for removal of the chief minister, expressed full support for Biren Singh on the plea he is cooperating with the Centre. This cooperation can mean many things and in many ways and also undoubtedly also means that Biren has been given the green signal for every decision taken by his government. The counter-attacks from the government were vitriolic but wandered to the past. Eventually, through brute strength, the suffering people Manipur lost the no trust motion as those who ought to have been made accountable for the failures are still there, while the ethnic and religious communities face uncertain future.


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