Data indicates that since 1952, there have been 27 No-Confidence motions and 12 Confidence motions, excluding the current one where a discussion is yet to take place. The most time spent in a No-Confidence motion was during the one against Lal Bahadur Shastri’s government.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla accepted the ‘No-Confidence’ motion against the government moved by the Opposition on 26 July 2023. This motion was brought to the House by Deputy leader of the Congress Party in Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi amidst the opposition’s ongoing protests demanding a statement on the situation in Manipur from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the motion was accepted, the speaker is yet to confirm the time and date of the debate and vote. This would be the first no-confidence motion against the government during the current 17th Lok Sabha term.
What is a No-Confidence motion?
In a parliamentary democracy, a government can be in power only if it enjoys the majority and confidence of the directly elected house i.e., Lok Sabha in the case of India. The rules of Lok Sabha allow for a motion of no-confidence, where-in any MP can garner the support of 50 MPs and introduce a motion of no-confidence against the government. A discussion on the motion takes place, in which those supporting the motion highlight the concerns against the government, to which the treasury benches respond. This is followed by a vote. In case the motion carries, the government is required to resign.
While the current NDA government has a more than comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, a no-confidence motion has historically been used as a strategic tool to force a discussion on a certain issue or topic. Our detailed explainer on ‘No-Confidence motion’ can be read here.
In contrast, the Government also has the option of introducing a ‘Confidence Motion”. A Motion of confidence is a motion of support proposed by a government in a parliament or other assembly of elected representatives to give members of parliament a chance to register their confidence in a government.
In this story, we look at the data related to both these motions. The compiled dataset with details on Confidence and No-Confidence Motions discussed in the Lok Sabha is available on Dataful.
Highest number of No-confidence Motions during 3rd & 4th Lok Sabha terms
The first no-confidence motion was moved during the 3rd Lok Sabha. Acharya Kripalani moved this motion after Sino-India War when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister. The motion garnered 62 votes in favour and 347 votes against and hence, it did not go through. There were 5 other No-confidence motions during the 3rd Lok Sabha Term. Even during the next Lok Sabha term, there were 6 no-confidence motions. Overall, there have been 27 No-Confidence motions so far. The number of no-confidence motions has reduced in the more recent Lok-Sabha terms.
Apart from the no-confidence motion, there were 12 instances where-in the Government sought the confidence of the house through a confidence motion. The first confidence motion was moved by then Prime Minister Charan Singh during the 6th Lok Sabha. However, this motion was listed but not moved because Charan Singh has tendered his resignation. The next confidence motion was during the 9th Lok Sabha by V.P. Singh, which was adopted. However, V.P. Singh lost the next confidence motion moved in the next year. His successor Chandra Sekhar moved a confidence motion, which he won by securing 280 votes.
Indira Gandhi led Government faced the most No-Confidence motions
8 out of the 14 Prime Ministers of India have faced a no-confidence motion during their tenure.
More than half of the total no-confidence motions were moved against Indira Gandhi’s government who faced 15 of the 27 no-confidence motions. However, none of these 15 motions were successful, with all of them being defeated. Only in case of the Morarji Desai, did the no-confidence motion led to his resignation. In fact, he won a no-confidence motion earlier. After Indira Gandhi, the next highest number of no-confidence motions were against Lal Bahadur Shastri and P.V. Narasimha Rao with 3 each.
Out of the 12 Confidence motions moved by the Prime Ministers, the highest was Atal Bihar Vajpayee with 3. The first of these motions was not put to vote as he resigned after being unable to gather the required support to form a government. His second motion in his next tenure was successful but in the third confidence motion, he lost by just one vote. V.P. Singh was the first PM to lose a confidence vote. The only other PM apart from these two who lost a confidence vote was H.D. Deve Gowda.
Highest time spent in discussion was during the first no-confidence motion against Lal Bahadur Shastri
Debate is an important part of any confidence or no-confidence motions raised in the Lok Sabha. As indicated above, one of the main reasons why the opposition moves a no-confidence motion is to get a response from the government on any particular issue. Many a time, this is done despite fact that the opposition does not have a majority in the house and that the motion would be defeated.
As per the data available, a total of 351 hours were spent in discussions as part of the non-confidence motion. A total of 1293 minutes across 4 days was spent in discussion in the first no-confidence motion moved in 1963.
The next no-confidence motion was faced by Lal-Bahadur Shastri. The discussion happened over a period of 6 days and 1474 minutes. The next two-faced by Lal Bahadur Shastri saw fewer minutes in discussion with 650 and 948 minutes.
Two of three no-confidence motions faced by P.V. Narasimha Rao went over thousand minutes of discussion. In the second no-confidence motion against him, the discussion spread over three days and lasted 1304 minutes, while the third one was for 1100 minutes over 3 days. In the No-Confidence motion moved by Sonia Gandhi in the 13th Lok Sabha against the government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the discussion was for 1267 minutes over two days.
Among the confidence motions, the highest time spent in the discussion was for the confidence moved by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Twelfth Lok Sabha. His government lost the historic confidence motion by a single vote, but only after 1498 minutes spent in discussions over three days.
Highest Margin for No-Confidence motions vote was the first motion
Voting after the discussion determines whether the motion is successful or not. In case of a no-confidence motion, majority votes in favour of the motion mean that the government has lost the confidence of the house and must resign.
However, this has never happened in the history of the Lok Sabha. All the no-confidence motions which went to vote were lost. In one instance, Morarji Desai resigned after an inconclusive discussion and the motion did not go to vote.
Among the no-confidence motions that went to vote, the highest margin was the first no-confidence motion. This motion against Jawaharlal Nehru’s government was able to find support of only 62 votes while 347 voted against the motion and in favour of the government.
In the case of Confidence motions moved by the respective PM in power, 8 went for voting. The biggest margin of loss was in the case of VP Singh whose confidence motion secured only 152 votes while 356 MPs voted against it. H.D Deva Gowda of the first United Front government also lost the vote by securing only 190 in favour, and 338 against. As already highlighted above, the closest loss was by 1 vote in the case of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.