When Sonia Gandhi told the media yesterday that the Congress Party had the numbers to bring the government down, even the most pro-Congress sections of the media laughed it off. The no-confidence motion this time is not about whether the government will survive or not, but by how much the government will beat the motion. The only spin that the pro-Congress media actually put to this was that the no-confidence motion would be a big jolt for the BJP ahead of 2019. Such asinine analysis is why portals like ours exist. The BJP stands to benefit tremendously through this, for several reasons.
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2018
Perception and morale
The BJP will win this no-confidence motion right before 2019. The opposition and the media have projected the image of a weakening BJP since 2014, and once again, the BJP will get a chance to debunk such a perception. There’s a reason the Congress batted for a no confidence motion, but attempted to back out at the last moment. It never expected BJP to take the bait. The BJP will use the opportunity to project that the democratic mandate remains with them. The prime minister will use this opportunity as an ‘agni-pariksha’, and will emerge undisputed. This will boost the BJP’s morale, and will be a blow for the opposition.
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) July 18, 2018
Bills will be passed after this
This is an important parliament session, and many flagship legislations are in the pipeline. These legislations will play an important role in 2019. In order to get them passed, the government requires a disruption-free session. After losing the no-confidence vote, the opposition will have zero moral authority to disrupt proceedings. The temple of democracy would have shown them their place, and disrupting proceedings thereafter would hurt them in the perception battle.
The Congress will be kicked when it’s already down
Politically, the opposition in general and the Congress Party in particular, are on the backfoot. With Shashi Tharoor’s Hindu Pakistan and Hindu Taliban comments, and Rahul Gandhi’s alleged statement that the Congress is a Muslim party, the BJP has a lot of ammunition. The discussion that takes place before the vote will give the government an opportunity to debunk the incoherent arguments that the opposition has made against the government, as well as to take the opposition to the cleaners. Of course, that is not an objective point of view. But let us not delude ourselves, for we can make an educated guess as to how the prime minister’s speech on the floor of the house will bamboozle the opposition. In the run-up to 2019, this sort of opportunity where the prime minister answers the opposition and takes them on face-to-face might not arise again.
A homecoming for fence-sitters
In terms of political equations, the moment is ripe for the BJP to have a floor test. An abstention will reduce the house’s strength and benefit the BJP, so abstentions will be considered as votes for the BJP. Every disgruntled ally is now suddenly in the dock to take a side publicly- in the most crucial test for the BJP, are they with the BJP or not? Not being with the BJP would mean being on the losing side this time around, which is not particularly good for anyone’s morale in the run-up to a general election. Siding with the BJP would mean that they can no longer follow a fence-sitter policy, which would give the BJP an upper-hand in negotiating and dealing with the likes of Shiv Sena and the JDU in the run-up to 2019.
Breaking a supposedly united opposition
The no-confidence motion was initially moved by the TDP. Since the TDP and the TRS do not see eye to eye, the TRS is likely to abstain from voting. If a supposedly united opposition cannot come together for a no-confidence motion, sitting across the table and working out a seat-sharing agreement or common minimum program suddenly seems far-fetched. Having Uddhav Thackeray in the united opposition also turns into an impossibility. In a major embarrassment for the TDP, which brought about the motion, senior MP Diwakar Reddy has announced that he will defy his party’s whip and abstain from voting. Reddy claims both the centre and his own state government have failed the state, and therefore the likelihood of his continuing with the TDP is low. So the united opposition will come back divided, defeated and much weaker from the first battle they fight together.
I'm not going to attend Parliament session, you can say that I violated the party whip. I'm fed up with the centre & our TDP govt. I'm fed up with the whole political system: JC Diwakar Reddy, TDP MP to ANI pic.twitter.com/QTZBUrs8rW
— ANI (@ANI) July 19, 2018
The consequences of the no confidence motion is something the BJP is actually looking forward to. As the bugle is blown for 2019, this is exactly how the BJP wants to go to battle. The no confidence motion will give the BJP the confidence it needs for 2019.