In an embarrassment for the BJP-led government, NDA ally Shiv Sena on Friday boycotted the Lok Sabha discussion on motion of no-confidence against the Narendra Modi government. The Sena shares power with the BJP at both the Centre and in Maharashtra. Asked whether this could lead to a break-up, a source in the Sena said, “Let us see…. We are not worried.”
The boycott decision overtook a three-line whip issued on Thursday by Chandrakant Khaire, Sena chief whip in Lok Sabha, calling upon all party MPs to be present in the House on Friday and support the government during the confidence vote. Sena MPs did not sign the attendance register on Friday.
Sources said Khaire issued the whip on being told by floor leader Anandrao Adsul. BJP floor managers had reportedly reached out to Adsul and given him the draft of the whip. Khaire had acted despite a word from Mumbai earlier that the final instructions would be conveyed on Friday morning.
On Friday, Khaire said, “Don’t talk about yesterday. Talk about today. Our decision is to boycott the discussion.”
Khaire’s action, according to sources, had annoyed Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and led to a prompt response. What followed was the decision to abstain, and an attack on the Modi government and the BJP in Saamana, the party mouthpiece.
Sena parliamentary party leader and Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut said, “Our party chief had decided that our members will not go to Lok Sabha today. He decided that we stay neutral.” While agreeing that Sena is with the government, Raut added, “There is an element of distrust among people…. We have lost the confidence of people.”
Raut also said Rahul Gandhi’s gesture of giving Modi a hug was not a “jaadoo ki jhappi” but giving him a shocker.
Taking on the Modi government, the editorial in Saamana stated, “Those ruling the country today are butchers, who save animals but kill humans. There is an absolute lack of compassion (in minds of those governing the country)… Winning elections and remaining in power by hook or crook is not democracy. Majority is never permanent. The people are supreme.”
It said: “Winning a majority no longer means it is peoples’ mandate. It has now become a tool to indulge in dictatorship. In order to seek votes, big promises are made. They play with sentiments of the people for political gain. But election jumlas (rhetoric) never become a reality.”
Stating that the TDP, which moved the no-trust motion, was once a part of NDA and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti, who spearheaded the milk agitation in Maharashtra, was also an ally, the Sena asked the government to “introspect” why had they left the alliance.