Governments have won six of eight trust votes

July 20th, 2008 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Of the eight trust votes taken in the Lok Sabha in the last 19 years, the government of the day has won six while in two cases the incumbent prime ministers simply resigned without facing the house. Interestingly, the concept of a trust vote started only in 1979 because in all the general elections before that - from 1952 to 1977 - the mandate was so decisive that there was no need for a confidence motion.

The first time the need arose was in 1979 when Charan Singh was the prime minister after an earlier split in the Janata Party. Realising he did not have the requisite numbers, Charan Singh did not even come to the house to face a confidence motion and resigned.

The next time a trust vote was moved was a decade later when V.P. Singh became the prime minister in December 1989. He won but stepped down a year later after losing a no-confidence motion.

Chandra Shekhar, who succeeded Singh, won a trust motion in November 1990 but resigned five months later after the Congress party withdrew its support to the government.

Prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao won a confidence vote in July 1991. His government lasted a full five years.

Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda won a trust motion in June 1996 but lost in April 1997 when the Congress withdrew its support to his government.

Inder Kumar Gujral, who succeeded Gowda, won a vote of confidence in April 1997 but resigned in November after losing majority support.

In 1996, prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee resigned on the floor of the house before the confidence motion could be put to vote, admitting he did not have the numbers in his favour.

Vajpayee, however, won a trust vote in May 1998.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not have to move a confidence motion in 2004 as he was assured of majority with the outside support of the Left. The same Left has now forced him to seek a vote of confidence after 50 months in power.

Manmohan Singh will be the first prime minister who will not vote on a trust motion since he is not a member of the Lok Sabha but of the upper house of parliament.

Although the magic figure for the government to survive is placed at 272, this could be even lower depending on the members present and voting when the government faces a trust vote Tuesday.

The Lok Sabha’s strength is 545. Of this, 543 are elected members and two are nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. These two can vote. There are two vacancies.

One member, P.C. Thomas of the Kerala Congress, is barred from voting though he can take part in the debate. This is due to a Kerala High Court directive in response to an election petition filed against him.

This reduces the figure of those who can vote to 542 - and so the majority of 272. The speaker is called upon to vote only in the case of a tie.

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