From the very beginning, the no-confidence motion against the United Progressive Alliance government mooted by the Trinamool Congress was doomed to fail. A constituent of the UPA until recently, it was unrealistic for the Trinamool to have hoped the opposition would rally behind it. The Left parties, especially, saw the move as an opportunistic tactic designed to gain political mileage in West Bengal, where they too have high stakes. The main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, realised that a no-trust motion would have had less chance of being carried through in the Lok Sabha than a resolution on the Foreign Direct Investment under Rule 184 entailing voting. For one, a no-trust move would have immediately prompted all the constituents and backers of the UPA to close ranks and ward off the threat to the government. But about FDI in multi-brand retail, many of the UPA partners such as the DMK hold strong reservations as do supporting parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Even those not keen on unseating the government might thus feel pressured to vote against the government on a resolution against FDI in retail, a politically contentious issue. For the BJP, the less ambitious course held out more hope. Without the prospect of an alliance in West Bengal, the principal opposition party would have sensed no advantage in sailing with the Trinamool on this issue. As the Trinamool attempt to move the motion failed for want of the requisite numbers, another motion of no-confidence will have to wait for at least six more months. But, in the calculations of the BJP and the Left parties, this is a better outcome than the government surviving a no-confidence motion and emerging stronger with claims of Parliament’s endorsement for its policies and programmes.
Sadly, the Trinamool does not seem to have learnt much from the fiasco. Eager to be in the spotlight, the party had decided to move a no-confidence motion without consulting others. Mamata Banerjee now claims the Trinamool’s failed effort exposes the opposition parties that did not support the motion, but this is hardly any consolation. Ms Banerjee was hoping to project the Trinamool as the prime mover of all things, but such short-sighted tactics showed up her party as hot-headed and tactless. Given the composition of the current Lok Sabha, an alternative to a Congress-led government is almost impossible. And parties such as the SP and the BSP do not want to be seen as helping the BJP even if they were to topple the UPA government. While the government might have to face some more embarrassing situations, its survival is not in question in the immediate future.