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Indian opposition leader back in parliament ahead of no-trust vote

Parliament has restored the membership of Congress Party’s Rahul Gandhi one day before no-confidence motion debate opens

The secretariat of Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament, restored the membership of opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday, after the country’s Supreme Court last Friday suspended his two-year jail sentence for defamation. The development is likely to give a boost to the opposition as it gears up to vote on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government this week.

India’s main opposition Congress Party welcomed the reinstatement of Gandhi, the scion of the historic family that ruled India for 60 of the 75 years since it gained independence from the British, as the member of parliament (MP) from Kerala’s Wayanad constituency. He was suspended earlier this year following his conviction in a defamation case –over a remark mocking the prime minister– by a lower court in Gujarat, Modi’s home state.

The decision to reinstate as an MP is a welcome step,” Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge wrote in a tweet, adding that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Modi government in “whatever time left of their tenure” should concentrate on “actual governance rather than denigrating democracy by targeting opposition leaders.”


Gandhi’s reinstatement as an MP brought cheer to INDIA, a new alliance of opposition groups formed last month by 26 parties in an attempt to take on the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in next year’s national elections.  The opposition leaders were seen celebrating Gandhi’s reinstatement as an MP by distributing sweets.

The Congress Party said that it would like Gandhi to be a key speaker in the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha that will be held from Tuesday to Thursday and will address the months-long ethnic violence in the remote northeastern state of Manipur. Congress MP Karti Chidambaram told news agency ANI that the party is certain that Gandhi will participate in the debate on the parliamentary no-trust motion. 

Gandhi’s presence will strengthen our ranks. A no-confidence motion is coming up tomorrow; this will bolster our arguments on why this government has lost the confidence of India,” he said.

On Monday, shortly after his MP status was restored, Gandhi was back in the newly-built parliament complex after paying tribute to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. “If not today, then tomorrow, the truth will triumph. But my path is clear. I have clarity in my mind about what I have to do and what my work is. I thank the people who helped us. I also thank the people for their love and support,” the Congress leader said at a press conference on Friday.

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) arrives to speak to the media before the opening of the Monsoon session of Parliament in New Delhi on July 20, 2023.
Modi faces no-confidence test over Manipur violence

Meanwhile, the BJP has issued a notice to its Lok Sabha MPs asking them to be present in the house from Monday to Friday to support the government’s stand and important bills to be introduced.

While the no-confidence vote is not expected to become a challenge to the Modi-led government, which enjoys a comfortable majority of 331 seats in the 543-member lower house, the opposition is holding that it will force the Indian leader to address the situation in Manipur –something he hasn’t done, despite violence raging in the remote hilly state since early May. 

In 2018, the Modi-led government comfortably won a vote of no-confidence brought forward by the Telugu Desam Party of N. Chandrababu Naidu and backed by numerous opposition parties. At the time, 325 MPs voted against the motion.

August 07, 2023 at 08:11PM


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