Opposition mulls no-confidence motion against Lok Sabha Speaker
By G Krishna Mohan Rao*
New Delhi: Giving a fresh twist to the ongoing stand-off in Parliament, the Congress Party-led Opposition is toying with the idea of bringing a no-confidence motion against Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday, April 3, 2023, on the grounds that opposition members are not being allowed to speak in the House. This proposal surfaced in a meeting of the Congress MPs held today. Sources said that Congress Party is discussing the issue with like-minded parties for tabling it on April 3.
Sources said while there was opposition to the move from some members, most agreed that it should be done. It is learnt that Congress is seriously considering the legality involved in seeking the removal of the Speaker. The main grievance to be cited in the motion is the alleged bias of Om Birla, while other issues are likely to be added. The speedy disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha within hours of his conviction is considered a serious overreach, with some even arguing that two years sentence doesn’t entail disqualification and the punishment for the loss of membership should be over two years.
Congress Party strategists are aware that it is not easy to remove the Speaker and the fate of such a motion is known given the brute majority enjoyed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies. The Congress fear that the BJP may go all out against the no-confidence motion and may indulge in an additional roadblock in the form of disruptions in the House. Even if the Opposition relents from its ongoing protests to table the motion, the treasury bench too has been protesting against the Opposition. The House being in order is a pre-requisite for the no-confidence motion to be tabled.
It needs to be mentioned in this regard that the proposed no-confidence motion against the Speaker would require the backing of at least 50 members in order to get passed in the Lower House. Moreover, the House needs to function, which has become a rare occasion given the track record in the last two weeks.
With both Houses today adjourning to Monday, without transacting any business, the Opposition decided to meet again to discuss the no-confidence issue during this weekend.
Today, after both Houses got adjourned, Congress leaders met and reviewed the present stalemate in the Parliament. The Congress felt that the entire ‘drama’ of the BJP in Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, and eviction of his allotted government House, was nothing but to deflect attention from the alleged “Adani scandal”.
It may be recalled that the Opposition is holding protests against the disqualification of former Congress MP Rahul Gandhi from the Lok Sabha. This was after Rahul was convicted by a Surat District Court and sentenced to two years imprisonment in the criminal defamation case over “Modi surname”. The Opposition has also been demanding a joint parliamentary probe into the Adani issue. Today, the Congress Party decided to continue with their protest plan over the “Adani scam” as well as Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification more strongly from Monday.
The Parliament has been in a stalemate ever since the Adani issue blew up. Both the Houses have been getting adjourned within minutes of the commencement of proceedings over the last few weeks. When the Parliament reconvened after the break from March 13, 2023, the BJP targeted Rahul Gandhi as a counterweight to the Adani row. The ruling party’s MPs have also attacked Rahul Gandhi for his ‘ democracy in danger’ comment in a speech he gave during his UK tour. The disturbance in Parliament got intensified after Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha last week.
Interestingly, in the din and bustle of slogan shouting by the Opposition in the well of the House, Lok Sabha today passed the bill which provides for the Competition Commission of India( CCI ) to impose penalties on entities based on their global turnover instead of the current practice of considering only relevant market turnover. The CCI bill of 2022, was passed more than seven months after it was introduced in the Lower House in August last year. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the bill for consideration and passage.