Trust Vote – An Interplay of Indian Political Wrangling
It was indeed a major victory for Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, as his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government won the crucial trust vote in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) after two weeks of political wrangling. The event unfolded the realignment of various political parties, alleged buying of candidates and heated parliamentary debates. The Government was at tenterhooks most of the time, not knowing whether it would survive the onslaught of the Opposition. It did. It was a comfortable win. The ruling party got 275 votes as compared to the Opposition, which received 256. There were 10 abstentions.
As is in most cases, democracy was once again under test. The trust vote proved that a ruling Government could seek fresh lease by ensuring that its policies were acceptable to all, in this case the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Left parties had withdrawn their support to the UPA Government, as they were opposed to the nuclear deal. Subsequently, heated debates were held in the Parliament, and it was decided upon that a trust vote would be held.
Why the Nuclear Deal?
The nuclear deal with the US is expected to end the “nuclear apartheid” of India. The agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards the nuclear interests of India. It is hoped that the problem of energy shortages in India would be solved. As UPA chairperson and AICC(All India Congress Committee) president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, vehemently supporting the deal, said it would result in the generation of more energy power. According to her, more power was required for schools, agriculture, hospitals and for every single house and village.
The Left withdrew support as it felt that that the deal would bring India within the US strategic embrace and the Indian policy would have a pro-US tilt. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds the view that not only has US recognized India as a sate of nuclear weapons, but other countries also would like to see India comfortable in its nuclear resources. ” In fact, all the EU states back India. Not one of these countries wants to see India’s trajectory tied down by energy shortages. The West has acknowledged India as a rising power and given India the status of nuclear weapons state.”
The victory would now push the country towards the nuclear club and will enable the Government to carry on with its economic reforms. The Government is no longer held back by the Left as it now enjoys a solid majority to carry out social and economic reforms.
Role of the Opposition in the Trust Vote
The trust vote brought into focus the interplay of various political parties, their alignment strategies, ambitions to head the Government. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leveled allegations against the Samajwadi Party (SP) that some of its MPS were bribed by it. In fact, it is alleged that money power marred the trust vote. There was much cross-voting and some members voted in favor of the Government against their party’s wishes. Bahajun Samaj Party supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, who happens to be a Dalit, had ambitions of becoming the next Prime Minister. In fact, some Opposition parties rallied around her as they felt she was the best contender for the post of Prime Minister. Ex- Prime Minister, and senior BJP leader, Mr. L.K.Advani was another hopeful for the post.
The Left parties did not spare the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, a CPM stalwart, who was excommunicated by the politburo and was expelled by the party for not complying the party’s order to resign from the Speaker’s post. Even the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) also faced similar problems. Some parties had to resort to similar measures for not abiding by the party’s decision; some sought explanation from their party members as to why they did not vote. The BJP was the worst affected by the defections, as five of its MPs cross-voted and four abstained. It had to expel 8 MPs and now its number in the Lok Sabha has dropped from 130 to 122. The party had to also face up to the cash-for-favors scandal, which involved the mis-use of MP development funds for local areas.
Now, the Opposition is trying to form a Third Front, a coalition of several parties- a coalition that has proven to be unstable in the past. Most of them are rallying around Ms. Mayawati, who they feel is the best person for the Prime Minister’s post.
It is quite evident that the trust vote has again forced the Opposition to join forces together and to strengthen its effort to topple the ruling Government, although alignments do vary according to exigencies. The Left is now in the Opposition bandwagon. As far as the ruling Government is concerned, it can breathe more freely now without the Left dictating terms to it. It can now go ahead with its financial policies, without the Left’s ideological interventions. It can open up its retail and insurance; pass the pension reform Bill, public sector units can be listed for disinvestments etc.
As far as the money power is concerned, such charges have to be proven. A high level inquiry may have to be conducted and action taken against those accused of such malpractices.
With the high drama of the trust vote being over and the Government wins, now the focus has to be on gaining further confidence of the people by combating inflation and creating a more conducive atmosphere for investment. The economic slowdown can dampen the spirits of the Government.