No matter what the situation or turn of political events, the Bharatiya Janata Party has made it a habit to say it has emerged victorious. It was no different on Wednesday, the day after the Opposition-sponsored cut motions were voted upon and negatived.
The voting figures (289 for the government and 201 in favour of the cut motions) have established that the BJP, which has a strength of 115 in the Lok Sabha, managed the presence of only 110 members — Ramakant Yadav was in jail and could not come and Baliram Kashyap was too ill to attend, while Makhan Singh Solanki (Madhya Pradesh), Sadanand Gowda and S. Pakkirappa (both from Karnataka) absented themselves for unconvincing reasons.
Incidentally, Mr. Pakkirappa is a cousin of Sriramulu, one of the three powerful and cash-rich Bellary brothers. His absence immediately gave rise to speculation that the Congress could be up to some tricks to destabilise the Yeddyurappa government, which earlier found itself in difficulty when the Bellary brothers had come close to doing exactly this.
There were apparently three abstentions from the National Democratic Alliance ranks — two from the Janata Dal (United) and one from the Shiv Sena — taking the total of NDA absentees to 8, including the BJP, but not counting the two JMM votes, of which one (that of Shibu Soren) went against the Opposition and the other was not cast as Kameshwar Baitha is in jail.
The United Progressive Alliance too had three absentees, one each from the ranks of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Trinamool Congress, parliamentary sources said. But the UPA “made up” the loss through the addition of 20-odd BSP votes and one from the JMM.
The failure of the BJP and the NDA to keep their own flock together, however, did not prevent Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj from claiming a “positive political fallout” for the party.
It “exposed” the UPA government to be in a minority as the government scored 289 votes, crossing the mid-way mark mostly with BSP help. This, the BJP argued, showed up the UPA as being a “non-stable minority government,” an argument that was immediately dismissed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal as “specious” for, the votes in favour of the government were well past the mid-way mark of 273.
The BJP drew comfort also from the “expose” of “misuse” of the Central Bureau of Investigation by the government. Ms. Swaraj alleged that the government had used the CBI to arm-twist the Hindi heartland parties of Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Mayawati, all of whom had one criminal case or another pending against them. However, she did acknowledge that these three parties — the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the BSP — were technically still UPA supporters even if they were otherwise hostile to the Congress.
And, of course, as a direct result of the voting, the BJP had to bring down its own coalition government in Jharkhand. Another positive fallout?