New Delhi, July 19 : The BJP and opposition Congress sharpened their attacks on each other on Thursday, a day before the Lok Sabha takes up the no-confidence motion for debate and voting in an increasingly polarised environment with each side trying to maximise its chances of victory in the 2019 general elections.
Top guns of the two parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, will take part in the debate which will conclude with a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Seven hours have been set aside for the debate which will begin at 11 am and go on without the lunch break. Officials said as per calculations based on the strength of a party in the House, the BJP will get over three hours and Congress around 45 minutes.
Ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), appeared confident of the numbers with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar saying that it will be “NDA plus” at the end of voting.
“We have talked to several parties. We will get fresh support from the south and the northeast. It will be NDA plus,” he said.
In the 545-member (including the Speaker) Lok Sabha, the BJP-led NDA can bank on around 311 members in the Lok Sabha including 273 of BJP, SAD (4), Shiv Sena (18), LJP (6), RLSP (3), JD-U (2), Apna Dal (2), All India N R Congress (1), SDF (1) and NDPP (1).
Kumar also took a swipe at Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for her remarks on Wednesday that the Opposition had the required strength.
“She is not able to do her maths properly. What happened in 1999 is being repeated. The Congress had faced embarrassment,” Kumar said.
Kumar also taunted Congress for its support to TDP’s no-confidence motion. “There is a talk that Congress is following those it opposes,” he said.
While Shiv Sena has issued a whip to its members in the Lok Sbha to be present and vote in favour of the government, AIADMK indicated that it might not support the no-confidence motion. AIADMK has 37 MPs.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member Kesineni Srinavas, whose notice was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday as it was the first to be submitted, will initiate the debate on the motion.
A TDP delegation on Thursday sought the support of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to the no-trust vote.
Apart from TDP, the notice of no-confidence had also been given by members of the Congress, NCP, RSP and CPI-M. AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi.
BJP sources said Modi will speak for about one-and-a-half hours. Partry MPs
Anurag Kashyap and Hukumdev Narayan Yadav may also speak in the debate.
The Congress, the key rival of BJP in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, is expected to target the government on issues ranging from economy, problems of farmers and unemployment to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and petroleum prices.
It will also attack the government over “lynchings, social disharmony and social tensions.”
Party leader Anand Sharma said on Thursday that the “government should come up with a white paper on economy and release fresh GDP growth numbers.”
The motion will be the first to be faced by the Narendra Modi government, which is left with less than a year in office.