No Confidence Motions For A Healthy Democracy

On July 20th, 2018, Sh Narendra Modi led NDA government defeated No Confidence Motion moved by Sh Srinivas Kesineni of TDP which also enjoyed support of other opposition parties by margin of 199 votes. While nobody had doubts over NDA government’s ability to win the motion, debate provided a much welcome healthy discourse in the Indian political discussions among plethora of nasty no holds barred social media mudslinging.

We would not be commenting upon speeches or facts presented by leaders rather we would go into history of No Confidence Motion itself.

What is No Confidence Motion and what is the procedure to introduce it?

According to Wikipedia

“A motion of no-confidence is a statement or vote which states that a person(s) in a position of responsibility (government, managerial, etc.) is no longer deemed fit to hold that position, perhaps because they are inadequate in some respect, are failing to carry out obligations, or are making decisions that other members feel detrimental. As a parliamentary motion, it demonstrates to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in (one or more members of) the appointed government.”

In India, a No Confidence Motion (hereafter referred as NCM) can only be introduced by Member of Loksabha (Lower House of Parliament). Motion is moved for discussion by Speaker only when it has support of at least 50 members. If the motion carries, house debates and votes on the motion. For the debate, speaker can allot time to parties as per their strength in the House. Post discussion, voting can be carried out either through voice vote or through traditional voting. Out of 27 discussed motions, 4 were decided by voice vote.

Trust Vote (aka Confidence Vote) vs No Confidence Motion

While both Confidence Vote and No Confidence Motion sound similar, they are vastly different. A Trust vote is often moved by ruling government to prove that it has the required majority to rule. Trust votes are usually moved by government in coalition, when one or more coalition partner no longer supports the government. Out of 14 trust votes, so far 5 Prime minsters had to resign when they were unable to win trust vote, in 2 cases PM reigned before the trust vote and 7 times ruling government was able to win the trust vote.

History of No Confidence Motion

no confidence motion

Since the Independence, 27 NCMs have been moved in the parliament. First two terms of Loksabha did not face any NCM.

First NCM was moved by Socialist Leader Sh Acharya J B Kriplani of Praja Socialist party against Sh Jawaharlal Nehru in August 1963 after country’s defeat against China in 1962 war. Nehru government comfortably defeated the motion by margin of 285 votes. 362 votes were cast against the motion whereas only 62 votes were cast for the motion.

After the demise of Sh Nehru, Sh Lal BhadurShastri became prime minster. His government soon faced vote of No Confidence in Sep 1964 which was moved by Sh N C Chatterjee, an independed MP from Burdwan. Shastri government also comfortably defeated the motion by margin of 257 votes.

Shastri faced two more No Confidence motions after that, both of which were successfully defeated. One of the motions were moved against Shastri for his handling of post 1965 war events.

After Sh L B Shastri’s unexpected demise, Smt Indira Gandhi assumed premiership. Her government faced 2 no confidence during remaining term of 3rd Loksabha. All in all, record 6 NCMs were moved in 3rd Loksabha.

In 4th Loksabha, Indira Gandhi government faced 6 NCMs, first of which was moved by Sh Atal Bihari Vajpayee who himself would face NCM against his government in 2003.

While Smt Indira Gandhi faced trouble defeating first NCM moved by Shri A B Vajpayee which she defeated by narrow margin of 95 votes, she defeated rest comfortably. She faced 3 more NCMs during her last term as Prime Minster between 1981 to 1982

Cumulatively, Smt Indira Gandhi faced record 15 NCMs against her, Sh L B Shastri and Sh PVN Rao come distant second with 3 faced by each. 4 NCMs against Smt Gandhi were brought by ShJyotirmoyBosu, highest by any member.

Only once in Indian history, a PM had to resign following No Confidence Motion. In Jul 1979, Congress Leader Y B Chavan moved NCM against ShMorarji Desai lead Janata Party government. Desai government faced defections within their ranks and PM resigned before the voting as debate was inconclusive.

In Jul 1993, Sh PVN Rao government had close shave as it survived 3rd NCM moved against their government by defeating motion by just 14 votes, lowest margin in the history. Post voting, bribery allegations were thrown against Rao and Buta Singh accusing them of bribing Jharkhand MuktiMorcha members. Both were convicted by lower courts in 2000 however were eventually acquitted by higher courts.

NCM moved against Sh Narendra Modi government is first since 2003. Last motion was moved by Smt Sonia Gandhi against ShA B Vajpayee government. Vajpayee government comfortably defeated the motion by margin of 125 votes.

NCM debates often extend to several hours and have heated discussions. While longest discussion lasted for more than 24 hours, shortest debate lasted just over 6 hours. Yesterday’s debate which lasted for over 12 hours lies midway.


While No Confidence motions have hardly resulted in toppling of Government, they serve as healthy function of democracy allowing a room for inclusive and constructive debate. Whatever results maybe, they are sign of healthy democracy and it was pleasure to witness it once again after so many years.

1) Data Source: Data Source: STATISTICAL HANDBOOK 2016, MINISTRY OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS , Government of India (Link:

2) Link to Tableau Public Dashboard:

Abhinav Devaria is a business analyst currently working for a healthcare firm in Hyderabad


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