Brief History of No-confidence Motions and Bills Cleared in Parliament
Image for representational purpose. Credit: PTI
The just-concluded Monsoon Session of Parliament, the second last of the Seventeenth Lok Sabha before India heads for the General Election in April 2024, was as eventful as any in recent memory. Among developments that drew public attention were Congress leader Rahul Gandhi being reinstated as a Member of Parliament, numerous bills passed amid Opposition walkouts, and the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
As per the statement given by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, Lok Sabha passed 22 bills, and Rajya Sabha passed 25 during the Monsoon Session. On the other hand, the no-confidence motion was defeated by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha.
Drop in Bills Introduced and Passed
An analysis of data provided in the ‘Statistical Handbook 2023’ released by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in July 2023 indicates a gradual decline in the number of Bills introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha.
- The 15th, 16th, and 17th Lok Sabhas introduced 213, 219, and 162 Bills respectively. They also passed 192, 205, and 169 bills each.
- To be sure, the data available is till July 2023. However, the highest number of Bills—487—was passed during the 5th Lok Sabha, which had an extended term of 5.5 years.
- The 8th term of the Lok Sabha passed the next highest number of Bills at 355.
- The 5th and 7th Lok Sabha terms introduced the highest number of Bills, at 379 and 378, respectively.
- The least number of bills were passed during the 12th Lok Sabha. It was the shortest term, lasting only 13 months.
- Meanwhile, the average number of Bills passed and introduced during the 17 terms of Lok Sabha are 239 and 220 (rounded off).
- The Statical Handbook 2023 also provides data on bills passed every year. This data also tells a familiar story. After 1980, not a single year reached the list of ten years in which the highest number of Bills were passed.
- The most Bills was passed in 1979—118 in all—and that was during the 5th Lok Sabha.
If we examine the data on Bills passed according to sessions of Parliament, the 3rd session of the 5th Lok Sabha passed the majority; 47 bills. The 12th session of the 10th Lok Sabha and the 5th session of the 16th Lok Sabha passed the least number of bills—three each.
The 1st session of the 13th Lok Sabha and the 6th session of the 15th Lok Sabha passed 4 bills each—so improvement was negligible.
The 1st sessions of the 15th and 16th Lok Sabhas passed no Bills, falling among the six sessions with no Bills passed. There have been seven Lok Sabha terms in which zero no-confidence motions were filed.
First Confidence Motion Listed but not Moved
The first no-confidence motion was moved during the third term of the Lok Sabha against prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru after the India-China war, brought by Congress leader Acharya Kripalani. Apart from this, there were five other no-confidence motions in the third term of Lok Sabha. The fourth term had the same number of no-confidence motions. Therefore, the 3rd and 4th terms of Lok Sabha had the highest number of no-confidence motions.
There have been 12 instances where the ruling government sought the confidence of the House through a confidence motion. The highest number—4 confidence motions—were moved during the 11th Lok Sabha.
No no-confidence motions were moved in the 1st, 2nd, 9th, 11th, 12th, 14th, and 17th Lok Sabha.
Prime Minister Charan Singh moved the first confidence motion. Since the prime minister tendered a resignation, this motion was listed but not moved.
Indira Gandhi faced more than half the no-confidence motions moved, and former prime minister Narasimha Rao registered the narrowest win.
Modi defeated the no-trust motion moved against him by Congress Member of Parliament Gaurav Gogoi on behalf of the Opposition alliance INDIA with a voice vote. It was accepted on 26 July. This was Modi’s second no-confidence motion, as he faced one in his first term.
Between 1952 and 2023, 27 no-confidence motions have been moved against different governments. In all, 26 of these motions were defeated except when Morarji Desai resigned from office following a conclusive discussion. To date, an average of 3.5 no-confidence motions have been moved, but no government faced more than 3, except Indira Gandhi. The 15 no-confidence motions against her account for more than half of the total moved.
With over 15 years as prime minister, Gandhi was the second longest-serving prime minister after Nehru, who faced only one no-confidence motion during the third term of Lok Sabha. Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were the two prime ministers who faced just one no-confidence motion each.
Top and Least Winning Margins
Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi, and Vajpayee faced one no-confidence motion each. Desai and Modi have confronted two. While Desai defeated one with a voice vote and resigned against another, Modi defeated both—the first with a margin of 195 and the latest with a voice vote.
Among those who faced more than one no-confidence motion, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s 271-vote victory was the highest winning margin. In 1993, the Narasimha Rao government won a similar motion with a margin of only 14 votes.
Nehru defeated the sole no-confidence motion brought against him with the highest margin of 285 votes.
Among those who defeated no-confidence motions, Narasimha Rao registered the narrowest winning margin.
Source: Statistical Handbook, 2023, Dataful.
The author is a freelance journalist. The views are personal.
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