There is confusion within the Congress about why Rahul Gandhi did not address the Lok Sabha. Some say, ‘Perhaps he thought Gaurav Gogoi should initiate the debate since he is from the Northeast,’ while others claim it happened because PM Modi was not present in the House.
On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi surprised Congress and its Lok Sabha allies when he refused to begin the discussion on the no-confidence motion in the lower house at the last minute
Just a day before celebrating his return to Parliament, the party was preparing for Gandhi’s speech, expecting him to seize the spotlight on the first day of the debate. He had been named as the initial speaker and the media had been informed accordingly. However, a few minutes before the debate was scheduled to start, Gandhi informed party floor managers that he did not want to start the debate. This decision has become a mystery for many.
Subsequently, Congress floor managers informed Speaker Om Birla through marshals that Gaurav Gogoi, a Member of Parliament from Assam who had moved the no-confidence motion notice, would initiate the debate.
Congress MPs provided various reasons for Rahul’s surprising decision. The Treasury Bench within the House mocked the Congress. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi questioned why Rahul Gandhi’s name was withdrawn as the main speaker at the last moment.
Gogoi responded to this question by asking if the Opposition is suggesting that discussions between the Prime Minister and the Chair should be disclosed. This led to a tense exchange and encouraged Central Ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah, to protest. Shah stated, ‘This is a serious allegation.’
Following this, Birla warned Gogoi not to make comments that contain ‘falsehoods and untruths.’ Gogoi explained that he was trying to convey that discussions within the Chair’s chamber should not be discussed outside.
Joshi, referring to the confusion within the Congress, said, ‘But everyone knew who would start the debate.’ BJP’s first speaker, Nishikant Dubey, said he expected Rahul to speak, but it seemed he was not prepared and perhaps woke up late.
Congress MPs seemed confused, each giving their own explanations and reasons. One Congress MP said, ‘Perhaps he thought Gogoi should start the debate because he is from the Northeast and had visited Manipur. Additionally, he was the one who had given the notice and was always initiating discussions. Rahul’s return to the Lok Sabha happened just yesterday,’ one MP said.
Another claimed that Rahul decided not to speak initially because Prime Minister Modi was not present in the House. Another MP mentioned that they wanted to surprise the Congress government. They said the party had nominated him as part of a strategy. ‘We knew the government would find out, and the Treasury Bench would use all its might to counter it. When we finally decided that Gogoi would start the debate… they were taken aback,’ the MP tried to depict it as a strategic move.
Gogoi was already prepared to start the debate and he did so without any hesitation. There is no rule that dictates the proposer of a motion must speak first. The parties have the prerogative to put forth speakers based on their preference.
As per M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakdher’s book ‘Practice and Procedure of Parliament’, ‘Normally, the member who has been given permission to speak in the House moves the no-confidence motion and initiates the discussion. However, the Chair can allow such a member to present the motion without giving a speech and can grant another member of their party the permission to initiate the debate.