If Congress president Rahul Gandhi believed that his stunning act of hugging the prime minister in Lok Sabha during no-confidence motion debate on Friday would soften Narendra Modi's stand, he was highly mistaken. Rahul Gandhi's hugging-winking theatrics may have earned him eyeballs on television screens across the country, but PM Modi tore him apart for his 'childish' act on the floor of the lower house of Parliament.
The no-trust motion against the government, a first in 15 years, was defeated by a huge margin after a marathon 12-hour-long debate during which 39 MPs spoke. A total of 325 MPs opposed while 126 MPs supported the no trust motion moved by the TDP, a former BJP ally. While the debate meandered through a range of topics, the BJP tried its best to make it a launchpad for its 2019 general elections. Starting the discussion, TDP's Jayadeva Galla accused the PM Modi of not keeping his promises made to people of Andhra Pradesh. Then came BJP's Jabalpur MP Rakesh Singh, took the opportunity to highlight the government's achievements in poll bound states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
No Confidence Motion in LS today: What does it mean? Who stands where? Will Modi stun Oppn again? The story so far
‘Maintain decorum of House, PM post’: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Rahul Gandhi’s hugplomacy, wink
Rahul Gandhi's 'hug-and-wink' act
Later, Rahul Gandhi attempted to stun and surprise PM Modi and the ruling BJP by carrying out a 'never-seen-before' act in the House. Rahul walked towards PM Modi's bench, shook hands and hugged him taking the PM by surprise. PM Modi then returned the gesture by patting the Congress president's back. Rahul Gandhi was then caught by cameras winking at one of his fellow MPs. The act not only earned him the wrath of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan but also intense criticism from the BJP and other allies of the ruling NDA.
PM Modi's point-by-point rebuttal
Before the 'hugging' theatrics, Rahul Gandhi levelled serious allegations against the Modi government. The Congress leader raised several issues, including the Rafale fighter jet deal. He accused the government of "lying" to the nation on the issue of sharing details of the Rafale jet deal and described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a 'bhagidaar' (collaborator) in cases of alleged corruption, not a 'chowkidaar' (guard).
Responding to the no-trust motion debate, PM Modi came down severely on the Congress and Rahul Gandhi. In his nearly 2-hour-long speech, PM Modi described Rahul's act as 'childish'. He highlighted that the floor test was more of a 'force' test by the Congress, which is trying to stitch in a grand alliance to take on the BJP-led NDA in 2019.
The Rahul-Modi hug in Parliament makes it to front pages of newspapers. pic.twitter.com/Vy5YOZWLic— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2018
"Arrogance is behind the no confidence motion," Modi said in his reply and hit out at the Congress, saying this is not the floor test of the government but a "force" test of the main opposition party and its so-called allies. He said the only thing they have to say is- 'remove Modi'.
"We are 'bhagidars'(collaborator) to people's dreams, to the poor people of the country. I am 'chowkidar' and 'bhagidar', but not a 'saudagar' (trader) or 'thekedar' (contractor) like you," Modi said during his speech in a blunt retort to Gandhi that drew cheers from the Treasury benches.
The stinging attack on the Congress by PM Modi was in response to allegations against the government levelled by Rahul Gandhi who accused the prime minister of being a 'bhagidar' (collaborator) in corruption and not a 'chowkidar'. Rahul Gandhi also said that people were victims of his 'jumla'(gimmickery) strikes virtually.
The fierce debate which ended on a disappointing note for the Opposition has now set the stage for for an intense face-off during the 2019 polls.
Watch: Modi govt wins no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha
(With inputs from agencies)