Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday faced tough questions from opposition parties in parliament, over the ongoing Manipur ethnic violence, unemployment and lacklustre economic growth.
A no-confidence motion was moved by the newly formed alliance of opposition parties called “INDIA” last week against the ruling government following deadly violence in the north-eastern state that has led to the killing of at least 180 people and left more than 60,000 homeless.
Manipur, bordering Myanmar, is ruled by the BJP, which also runs the federal government.
Opposition parties have accused Mr Modi of remaining silent over the violence that continues unabated, despite tens of thousands of security forces being deployed in the region.
Gaurav Gogoi, an Indian National Congress lawmaker who brought the no-confidence motion, initiated the discussion in the lower house of the parliament on the first day of the three-day debate.
“This is our compulsion to bring the no-confidence motion due to his vow of silence. It was not about numbers but for the people of Manipur and for justice for Manipur … Manipur is seeking justice. The women, daughters, youths, and people of Manipur are demanding justice,” Mr Gogoi said.
He further asked the prime minister why he had not visited the state where the violence broke out on May 3.
“Why did he not visit Manipur to date despite being the prime minister of the nation? Why did it take almost 80 days to finally speak in Manipur and when he did speak it was just for 30 seconds and why has he not sacked the Manipur Chief Minister yet?” Mr Gogoi asked.
Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, whose parliament membership was restored on Monday, was supposed to initiate the debate, according to local media reports, but his name was withdrawn at the last minute. He is expected to be the last speaker in the debate.
Mr Modi, however, seemed unfazed and reportedly called the debate an opportunity for his government to highlight its work.
“The no-confidence motion is not against the government, but to bring confidence among their allies … but for us, it’s an opportunity to bring in the good work done by this government into the narrative,” Mr Modi said at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday.
This is the second time Mr Modi has faced a no-confidence motion since his party came to power in 2014.
In 2018, a lawmaker from Telugu Desam Party moved a motion over the non-allocation of sufficient funds to the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. It was defeated after a 12-hour debate.
Mr Modi is expected to reply to the debate on August 10.