Laddoos For PM, New Seating Plan At First BJP Meet Since No-Trust Vote

Laddoos For PM, New Seating Plan At First BJP Meet Since No-Trust Vote

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi was congratulated by his colleagues with laddoos as the ruling BJP's lawmakers held their first meeting today after winning an opposition-backed no-confidence motion.

BJP president Amit Shah was seen offering a laddoo to PM Modi and others garlanded him.

Top party leaders including PM Modi, Amit Shah, ministers Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Ananth Kumar and Nitin Gadkari, and veteran LK Advani then sat on the stage.

In past meetings, everyone sat in the audience and walked to the stage when it was their turn to speak. The change in the seating plan is seen to project collective leadership in an election year.

In another show of unity, a BJP lawmaker from UP, Ashok Dohre - a compulsive rebel who recently wrote to PM Modi complaining about attempts to dilute a law for the protection of Dalits - went to the Prime Minister and touched his feet. PM Modi patted him with a loud thump.

The government on July 20 easily defeated the no-confidence motion brought by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, a former ally who walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in March.

After a 12-hour debate, the government won 325 votes in its favour with 451 members in parliament.

The dramatic all-day debate in parliament preceding voting for the no-trust motion saw Congress president Rahul Gandhi taking on the government on the Rafale deal and on economic decisions like Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetization before stunning everyone by crossing the floor to give PM Modi a hug.

After walking back to his seat, Mr Gandhi was seen winking at a colleague - a gesture that the BJP said betrayed the Congress chief's insincerity.

Replying to the debate, PM Modi gave a point-by-point rebuttal to Rahul Gandhi and also derided him for his embrace.

No one expected the government to lose the no-confidence motion, which was largely symbolic and was seen as a chance by the ruling as well as opposition parties to take each other on ahead of state polls later this year and the 2019 national polls.