Mamata Banerjee's bid to move a No-Confidence Motion against the Manmohan Singh government that she quit two months ago flopped today. Expectedly. The Trinamool Congress could not get 50 MPs to support its motion in the Lok Sabha and the Speaker disallowed it.
Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who is the leader of the Trinamool Congress in the Lok Sabha, formally gave notice on the motion today and said, "This House expresses want of confidence in the Council of Ministers over its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail as it is going to harm millions of small businesses."
Speaker Meira Kumar then asked Mr Bandyopadhyay to demonstrate support; only the 18 other MPs of the Trinamool and three members of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) stood up in support. Naveen Patnaik's Orissa-based BJD has 14 Lok Sabha MPs; 11 were not present in the House, including senior leaders like Pinaki Mishra and Jay Panda. Party sources said Ms Banerjee had, in her effort to gather support for her motion, tried to reach out to BJD chief Mr Patnaik, who is also the Chief Minister of Orissa.
The entire process took place amid much shouting in the House.
On her Facebook page, Mamata Banerjee posted, "Today, you have seen that according to our commitment to the people of the country, AITMC Members of the Parliament have moved the No-Confidence Motion against the UPA Government on the opening day of the Session. We knew our limitation was the strength, and ultimately, that is why the Motion was rejected. Though the Motion was rejected on the floor of the House due to numbers, but the 'No Trust' against the UPA Government is not rejected by the people of the country. Now, you see the saviours of the Government are exposed." (Read)
Before the session began this morning, Mr Bandyopadhyay had told NDTV that his party was determined to go ahead with the no-trust vote. "It does not matter if we have support or not. We have decided to move the no confidence motion. We are not guided by the CPM or the BJP."
The Trinamool chief had tried hard to garner the support she needed for the no-confidence motion, even offering to back one instead if the Left parties, her arch-rivals, moved it.
The CPM had categorically said it would not support Ms Banerjee's motion. The BJP was less direct but was not inclined to give Ms Banerjee centrestage by backing her motion.
Both the Left and the BJP oppose the government's move to allow 51% FDI in retail through an executive decision, but had made clear that they would not support Ms Banerjee's No Confidence Motion. They want the matter debated in Parliament under rule 184, that entails a vote after discussions. The government is loath to give in to that demand. It is agreeable to a discussion without a vote. The government's argument is that its executive decision on FDI in retail does not need the Parliament's nod.
The BJP and Left calculate that the government would defeat a no-trust vote with ease, helped by parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP, which provide external support. That would then mean an endorsement of all its policies. But on FDI, these very parties might find it more difficult to align themselves with the government. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has been a vocal opponent of FDI in retail all along.