15 Congress, TDP rebels defy party whips during no-trust vote
Capitalising on a divided and unprepared Opposition, the Kiran Kumar Reddy government sailed through comfortably, as expected, defeating the TRS and YSRC-sponsored no confidence motion by 142 to 58 in the voting that was taken up well after 1 a.m. on Saturday.
In a House of 295 members, including one nominated MLA, as many as 64 MLAs remained neutral while 31 others, mostly those from the TDP, either abstained from voting or simply did not turn up.
MIM stays away
The result did not come as a surprise as the main Opposition, Telugu Desam (86 on paper) kept up its promise of remaining neutral while the MIM (7) stayed away from voting. This made the task easy for Congress as the two sponsors of the motion desperately tried to shore up the support for its motion from rebels of Congress and TDP besides CPI (4), BJP (3), CPI-M and Lok Satta (one each) besides two independents.
Although on the surface it was a cakewalk for the Congress, the voting left the ruling party scarred as much as it hurt the Telugu Desam. As many as nine Congress MLAs defied the party whip and voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against their own government. Similarly, six Telugu Desam MLAs stepped out of line and supported the TRS-sponsored motion.
The voting threw up some other surprises too. Mr. Nagam Janardhan Reddy (Independent), Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta), Mr. K. Harishwar Reddy and Mr. S. Venugopalachary (both TDP rebels) did not participate in the voting although they were in favour of the notice served earlier in the day. TDP MLA Suman Rathod and a Congress MLA was not permitted to vote by Speaker Nadendla Manohar.
The marathon 14-hour long debate was listless and marked by slanging matches — first between Congress and TRS and then, TDP and YSRC. The division in the Opposition ranks was so striking that TDP and YSRC were seen hurling accusations against each other rather than targeting the Government.
In a spirited rebuttal of the criticism against his government, Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy said he failed to understand why some Opposition parties have moved the motion against his Government. The Opposition could not come up with any cogent explanation. “My government has done all that is expected from it and protected the interests of sections of people”.
Takes a dig at Naidu
Taking pot-shots at his rivals, he said he was missing his “walking friend”, in an oblique reference to the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, N. Chandrababu Naidu, now into the sixth month of his padayatra . “He seemed to be so determined that he might even walk into neighbouring State of Odisha,” Kiran said.
Buoyed by the TDP’s neutral stand, the Congress leaders craftily took the two sponsors of the motion by surprise by making them accept the debate today itself at the Business Advisory Committee meeting, instead of Wednesday as planned by them. Legislative Affairs Minister D. Sridhar Babu insisted that the government would first face the motion and only then the debate on the motion of thanks to Governor.