The BJP has everything going for it. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has obtained a single party majority in parliament. The BJP has triumphed in Haryana and emerged as the largest party in Maharashtra. Mr. Modi has reshuffled his cabinet and is all set to implement his projects with the aim of creating a great India. His foreign trips have all been successful and India’s global rating is the highest in many decades. Why then should the BJP take such a retrograde step that ruins its reputation for good governance and democratic functioning? I refer to the manner in which Mr. Devendra Fadnavis the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra won his trust vote.
As the largest party in Maharashtra the BJP is 22 seats short of absolute majority. However the National Congress Party (NCP) has announced unconditional support to the BJP in order to provide political stability to the state. Previously the NCP and BJP have been sharply adversarial. Therefore when the trust vote was to be taken in the assembly the result was foregone. The NCP had decided to either abstain or vote in the government’s favour. Despite this the Speaker hustled through a voice vote in dubious circumstances and when members demanded a division he overruled them against established norms. According to observers a division was prevented to avoid giving the impression that the government had won its vote on the strength of support from the NCP which has various corruption charges leveled against its senior members. If correct this was a stupid reaction by the government. The BJP never asked for NCP support. It cannot very well refuse or prevent any party supporting it.
Naturally this created uproar and opposition leaders accused the BJP of fraudulently obtaining its trust vote. Allegations were made by opposition leaders that BJP was afraid of its own members voting against their Chief Minister. Worse was to follow. When the Governor arrived at the assembly several Congress members shouted slogans in protest to draw the Governor’s attention to the fraud. There was some alleged jostling of the Governor. The Speaker suspended for two years five Congress members. Such a strong punitive action for a minor protest was unprecedented. Reportedly the BJP is studying video footage of the incident to find out if 12 more Congress members can also be suspended. If that can be done the opposition would be minus 17 members and the BJP presently is 18 members short of absolute majority. This is not counting a score of independents and small parties keen to support the government after bargaining.
The obvious question is why the BJP is so paranoid as to resort to undemocratic methods to obtain a majority when its position is so strong. It is ruining all its good work by recreating the Emergency culture. Is the BJP being stupid, suicidal or sabotaging its own Prime Minister? It has created a systemic issue that justifies Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena uniting to replace the government.