NEW DELHI: In a major victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the NDA government led by him comfortably sailed through the no-confidence motion brought against it by the Opposition after a day-long debate in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
Ahead of the voting, the Prime Minister called the no-confidence motion a result of the Opposition's "arrogance" and its 'Modi hatao' mindset as he hit back at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his "childish" behaviour.
While 325 members voted against the no-confidence motion, 126 MPs backed it with 451 total votes in the Lower House. Members of the Shiv Sena, BJD and TRS were not present in the House when the voting took place. Several AIADMK members opposed the motion, in a boost to the NDA.
Replying to the day-long debate on the motion, PM Modi appealed to all parties to defeat it and accused the Congress president of "crushing" the truth and "playing with national security" by making allegations against him on the Doklam issue and by speaking of graft in the Rafale aircraft deal.
Hours after the Gandhi scion left everyone surprised by walking across to the Prime Minister's chair to hug him, Modi sought to turn the tables on him, saying he appeared to be in a hurry to occupy his seat as he kept asking him to stand up for an embrace.
"What is his hurry to come to power? Let me tell this member, it is the people who elected us. That is how we have come here," he said.
The whole country has watched the game he played with his eyes, Modi said, evoking laughter from treasury benches as he gestured with his hands, apparently referring to Gandhi's wink in the House following his speech.
If Rahul Gandhi kept Modi in his line of fire through his speech, it was the turn of the Congress' ruling family to feel the heat when the Prime Minister spoke.
"The country is not unaware of the history of one family which stoked political instability in the country time and again for its selfish interests," he said.
Modi said his fate was in the hands of 125 crore people and added that he prayed to Lord Shiva, who was invoked by Rahul Gandhi in his speech, and the countrymen, that the Congress leader bring a similar no-confidence motion in 2024.
He cited several welfare initiatives taken by his government while hitting out at the Opposition, saying the country has seen how much negativity has seeped into his rivals that they were speaking against the progress made by the country.
To remove him, these parties, which could not even stand each other, have got together but he had the people's blessings, PM Modi said as he recited verses and 'shlokas' to describe the Opposition as a decrepit ship without a captain.
This is not his government's floor test but a "force test" that the Congress has done to see which parties are with it, he said. "Arrogance is behind the no-confidence motion," Modi said and hit out at the Congress.
Without naming Rahul Gandhi, Modi said due to his "careless" allegation on the Rafale deal, both India and France had to release statements. There is complete transparency in the deal, he asserted.
Rahul Gandhi also spoke about the Doklam issue but believed the Chinese Ambassador over our forces, PM Modi said while referring to Congress president's alleged secret meeting with Chinese diplomats during the standoff. "What have we come to? Everything does not merit a childish conduct," he said.
PM Modi also termed the surgical strikes being described as 'jumla strike' an insult to the security forces.
Modi also hit out at Rahul Gandhi's "bhagidar" (collaborator) remark, saying he is a 'chowkidar' and a 'bhagidar', but not a 'saudagar' (trader) or 'thekedar' (contractor) like the Congress president.
Rahul had said an industrialist under a debt of Rs 35,000 crore was given a contract in the Rafale deal and he benefitted to the tune of Rs 45,000 crore, while asking the Prime Minister to answer if the Cabinet Committee on Security took the decision.
The Prime Minister also went on to list names of leaders like Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Chandra Shekhar and Pranab Mukherjee who, he said, tried to see eye-to-eye with the Congress and the result is known to everyone.
Asserting that some people are indulging in "negative" politics, Modi said he was not doing politics of appeasement or vote bank. "We have been working with 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' mantra," he said.
PM said the NDA government has done several things for the benefit of the people, but the Opposition does not believe in the facts. "We are taking steps for doubling the income of farmers by 2022," he said.
The Prime Minister said the Opposition, especially the Congress does not trust the Chief Justice of India, the Election Commission and the electronic voting machines. He said, "those who don't have confidence in themselves, cannot trust anyone."
"I pray to God to give you the strength to bring a no-confidence motion in 2024 also. My best wishes are with you", Modi said.
He said the major opposition party had brought the no-trust motion "to spread instability in the country." "Had it not been your arrogance, and had you understood the problems of the states, GST would have been implemented five years ago," the Prime Minister said. PM Modi asked all Lok Sabha members to dismiss the non-confidence motion, which he said was driven by arrogance and Congress' attempt to test its own probable allies.
He blamed the Congress for the division of the country at the time of the Independence, as also for the division of Andhra Pradesh in a manner which had left the people there unhappy.
Modi said when the TDP decided to pull out of NDA, he had warned its leader N Chandrababu Naidu that his party was "getting entangled in a race of one-upmanship with the YSR Congress.
Modi reiterated that the NDA government is committed towards the development of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. He said the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had created Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
"It was done peacefully. These states are prospering ... The Congress divided Andhra Pradesh and their conduct then was shameful," he said.
Apparently referring to the Opposition attack on his government over mob lynching incidents, Modi said he has asked state governments to take action against the culprits who indulge in violence.
The Prime Minister also condemned the incidents of rape and atrocities against women and said "any instance of violence brings shame to the nation.''
(With PTI inputs)