Why PM Modi Met 5 Top Lieutenants Before No-Trust Vote

Why PM Modi Met 5 Top Lieutenants Before No-Trust Vote

NEW DELHI:Before facing an opposition-backed no-confidence motion in parliament today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting with five top BJP leaders -- party president Amit Shah and ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Ananth Kumar.

The government has more than enough numbers to defeat the no-trust motion. Sources say the Prime Minister wanted to make sure it stays that way, that every MP with the government is present in the house.

The ruling BJP faced embarrassment last year when many of its members were missing when a bill for constitutional status to the Other Backward Castes Commission came up for amendment in the Rajya Sabha.

The bill, already cleared by the Lok Sabha, gave the commission the power to investigate complaints and powers equivalent to that of a civil court.

Several members of the ruling party, including ministers, were missing during the debate and the vote, so the bill was passed with an opposition amendment.

It was a measure that was close to PM Modi's heart, said sources, and he doesn't want a repeat of that day.

The BJP put all its forces and meticulous planning behind gathering its flock, reaching out to upset allies and also rallying friendly parties.

Ahead of key state elections and the 2019 general elections, winning is not the party's only goal today. The idea is to get 350-plus votes to prove that support for the NDA has grown since 2014. "It is not just NDA, we are going to get the support of NDA plus," said Ananth Kumar.

Sources say 19 leaders were each assigned a group of parliamentarians to guard. They held meetings over dinner last evening.

Rebel MPs like Savitribai Phule, Ashok Dohre, Chhote Lal and Rajkumar Saini were also spoken to.

In the 533-member Lok Sabha, the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) has 312 members, well past the half-way mark of 267.

The no-confidence motion moved by N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was accepted on Wednesday by the speaker after such moves were repeatedly blocked in the previous session. This is seen as a shift in strategy for the BJP, which wants to take on the opposition in the debate and use the chance to highlight the government's works in an election year.