The Narendra Modi government has won the vote of confidence in Lok Sabha by a comfortable margin at the end of a marathon, 12-hour debate session that saw the Prime Minister tear into the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi. In a never-before move on Friday, Mr Gandhi had crossed the Lok Sabha floor at the end of a scathing speech, and hugged the Prime Minister. Late in the evening, PM Modi gave a point-by-point rebuttal to the attack. He also took on Mr Gandhi's mother Sonia Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose party had moved the no-confidence motion.
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In a house of 451 members, 325 voted in favour of the government, 126 were against. The halfway mark stood at 226, giving the government a two-third majority.
The strength of the House slid after Naveen Patnaik's BJD, Telangana's ruling party TRS and BJP ally Shiv Sena skipped the voting. Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK voted in support of the government.
After the voting, Union minister Ananth Kumar said the fractured opposition unity was revealed by the BJD and the Telangana party, which stayed away. "Shiv Sena has supported us. Other parties like the AIADMK voted for us," he added.
In his response to the debate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showcased the achievements of his government -- electrification of 18,000 villages, healthcare for all, LPG for the poor, initiatives for farmers, One-rank one pension for soldiers, the flagship Goods and Services tax and the strengthening of economy.
Targetting Sonia Gandhi over her recent statement on numerical strength of the parties supporting the no-confidence motion, PM Modi said he was reminded of 1999, when she joined other parties to challenge the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "She stood outside Rashtrapati Bhavan and said, 'We have 272 and more are joining us'. She destabilised Atal-Ji's government and never formed one herself," he said.
Taking on Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on Rafale, PM Modi said, "They raised Rafale issue and I was surprised... Due to one careless allegation in the House on Rafale, both nations had to release statements. Does this childish behavior befit anybody?"
Earlier on Friday, Mr Gandhi, leading the Congress offensive, alleged that the government's deal with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets was massively overpriced and its claim that details could not be revealed was an "untruth". He said when PM Modi went to France, "with some magic" powers, the price per plane increased to Rs. 1,600 crore, much more than Rs. 520 crore when the Congress was in power.
France put out a statement saying the two governments had sealed a security pact in 2008, which legally binds them to protect classified information.The BJP has moved a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi for his allegations against the PM.
Before the no-trust debate started, there were many political twists for the BJP. The party had claimed the support of estranged ally Shiv Sena, which decided to stay away from the debate on chief Uddhav Thackeray's orders.Naveen Patnaik's BJD walked out, reducing the strength of the house and the majority mark.
The no-confidence motion has been brought by Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party to push its demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh, which would involve extensive financial benefits. Naidu had quit the NDA earlier this year over this issue. PM Modi said he told the Chief Minister that he moved the no-confidence motion "just because of your internal politics with the YSR Congress Party".