The government of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi defeated a no-confidence motion in parliament on Thursday.
The motion was defeated in a voice vote called by the speaker of the lower house, shortly after opposition MPs walked out of the chamber.
Ahead of the vote, the prime minister had delivered a fiery speech defending his government and slamming the opposition.
What did Modi say?
Modi said the opposition parties were “playing politics” over the crisis in the northeastern state of Manipur, which has been rocked by ethnic violence in recent months, claiming over 150 lives so far and displacing thousands.
“Those who don’t trust democracy are always ready to make a comment but don’t have the patience to hear (the rebuttal),” Modi said.
They would “speak ill and run away, throw garbage and run away, spread lies and run away,” he added. “This is their game and the country can’t expect much from them.”
The no-confidence motion was brought by a new grand alliance of India’s opposition parties led by the Congress party.
They had been demanding the prime minister directly address the bloodshed in Manipur.
Modi had mostly remained silent on the violence that broke out early May, with the state now teetering on the brink of a civil war.
Motion to force Modi to speak on Manipur violence
The no-confidence motion on Thursday did not pose a serious risk to Modi’s ruling government as his alliance has a comfortable majority in the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone has 303 seats. To be in power, a party or coalition must control 272 seats.
The vote of no-confidence has been historically used as a tool to force a debate on a certain issue.
‘India is burning,’ opposition says
“If Manipur is burning, India is burning. If Manipur is divided, India is divided,” Congress lawmaker Gaurav Gogoi said two days ago on the opening day of the debate on the no-confidence motion.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told parliament that Modi’s government should have been able to stop the violence already, but has allowed the violence to fester for over three months.
Gandhi, who returned to parliament after being reinstated as a lawmaker this week, called for the firing of the state government run by Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah said Wednesday that the government was deeply concerned about the violence in Manipur, which he described as a “dance of fury.”
He rejected the opposition party’s demand to fire the state’s top elected leader, Biren Singh, who belongs to his party.
rm/wmr,sms (Reuters, AP)