The Hindu explains: No-confidence motions

A no-confidence motion needs a majority vote to pass the House.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:55 pm IST

Published - July 20, 2018 06:56 pm IST

Parliament building in New Delhi | File photo

Parliament building in New Delhi | File photo

On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, Kesineni Srinivas, an MP from the BJP’s former ally Telugu Desam Party moved a no-confidence motion against the Modi government. Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan accepted the motion and set the date for debate and voting as July 20, 2018.


According to rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of the Lok Sabha, a no-confidence motion is “a motion expressing want of confidence in the Council of Ministers.”

This motion can be moved when “the Member asking for leave shall, by 10.00 hours on that day give to the Secretary-General a written notice of the motion which such member proposes to move.” The Speaker then, once satisfied that the motion is in order, will ask the House if the motion can be adopted. Those Members that support the motion will have to rise in their seats, and with a minimum of 50 Members’ approval, the motion can be moved.

A no-confidence motion needs a majority vote to pass the House. If individuals or parties abstain from voting, those numbers will be removed from the overall strength of the House and then the majority will be taken into account.

In 1952, the lower limit of a no-confidence was at 30 MPs. J.B. Kripalani, or Acharya Kripalani as he was known, moved the first-ever no-confidence motion in August 1963 against the Nehru government after the India-China war. Kripalani, an independent MP condemned the Nehru government for poor execution of plans, and even called Jawaharlal Nehru’s Panchsheel policy “five nonsenses.”


Much of the Opposition also supported the motion, with many of them airing grievances unrelated to the motion. For instance, the DMK and other regional parties sought to retain the plurality of the country, while the Left parties took issue with the government’s shift to the right.

Responding to Opposition Members, Nehru then said, “It is obvious that what has brought them (Opposition) together is a negation… of our Government. That takes away a great deal from the strength of the Opposition and reduces it.”

That no-confidence motion did not pass the House. No-confidence motions in the Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi years were also unsuccessful — three against Shastri and 12 against Gandhi.

The first motion that almost passed muster, and led to the falling of a government was that by Y.B. Chavan against the Morarji Desai government. Only almost, because Desai resigned before the motion could be put to vote.

After this, almost every no-confidence motion has been defeated by the government.

The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, in 1999 lost power, when they lost a no-confidence motion, after their ally AIADMK pulled out of the coalition. The ruling NDA got 269 votes, while the Opposition got 270 votes, beating out the government.

The one that the Modi government is facing is the first that a government has seen in 15 years. The NDA government under Vajpayee managed to defeat the last one, moved against it in 2003.

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