Anticipated to stir heated discussions, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under scrutiny for his silence on the violent turmoil in the remote state of Manipur, as reported by local media during the ongoing Lok Sabha session on Tuesday.
Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi has initiated a debate on a no-confidence motion against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
However, the proceedings were disrupted by a central minister’s objection, citing an earlier announcement that senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi would open the debate.
Narendra Modi’s primary opponent, Rahul Gandhi, returned to the Lok Sabha on Monday after the Supreme Court halted his criminal defamation conviction in the “Modi surname case” from 2019.
The Lok Sabha commenced an extensive discussion on the no-confidence motion, brought forth by the newly formed alliance Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) last month, scheduled to continue until Thursday.
The debate is expected to be intense, with Prime Minister Modi slated to respond on the concluding day, August 10.
The I.N.D.I.A alliance, consisting of 26 opposition parties, introduced the no-confidence motion against the BJP-led government on July 26. This move aimed to compel PM Modi to address the Manipur violence issue.
It’s noteworthy that Modi has refrained from commenting on the severe unrest that has reached a level akin to “civil war” in the northeastern state, where his Hindu nationalist BJP holds power.
Modi remained silent on the situation, which escalated into the worst ethnic violence witnessed by the state of 3.2 million people, until videos depicting mob assault on two women emerged last week, inciting national outrage.
Modi eventually denounced the mass assault as “shameful” and vowed stern action against the culprits.
Nonetheless, opposition parties disrupted the monsoon session of parliament last week, demanding an in-depth statement from Modi regarding the Manipur crisis.
A no-confidence motion serves as a mechanism to evaluate the collective responsibility of the ruling administration. According to Hindustan Times, such a motion can be introduced when an MP believes that the current government lacks sufficient support to effectively govern.
This motion necessitates backing from at least 50 other MPs and can only be initiated within the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament, known as the Lok Sabha.
Within a parliamentary democracy, the continuity of a government’s authority depends on its ability to command a majority within the directly elected body, the Lok Sabha.
Despite holding a clear majority of 301 members in the 542-seat lower house, Modi’s BJP is facing criticism for its handling of the ethnic tensions in Manipur.
This situation is seen as a rare security and political setback for Modi’s administration, particularly as India gears up for national elections by May 2024.