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Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee flashes the victory sign as he comes out of Parliament on August 19 after defeating the no-confidence motion by 312 votes to 186.

Photograph: Saab Press

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Confidence in the government

After several lacklustre attempts over the last three-and-a-half years, the Opposition finally made its first determined bid to put the government on the mat. The outcome of the no-confidence motion was a foregone conclusion the minute it was tabled by Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi. No one expected the Opposition to break the unity of the National Democratic Alliance, and the Opposition did not even try.

But as Sonia told the House in her reply to the debate, the purpose of the motion was not to bring down the government, but to force a discussion on certain points that the prime minister had been avoiding a debate on.

In response, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took the Opposition head on, saying he had never seen such a worthless no-confidence motion in his long parliamentary career.

In the end, the government won the day quite comfortably.

Text: Rajeev Pai

No-confidence motion against the government

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