There are a little over 4000 MLAs across all states in India. For the citizen, a law passed by his state legislature is as relevant and important as one passed by Parliament. And MLAs also have no research support available to them to understand and reflect on policy issues before voting for them in the state assembly. To make matters worse, the sittings in many state assemblies are abysmally low as can be seen from this graph showing some states. For a while now, several MPs have been urging PRS to initiate some work with MLAs. We started a Policy Guide series some months ago -- essentially a 2-page note on policy issues of contemporary relevance that would be useful for MLAs. We started sending these out to MLAs in several states, and some MLAs called PRS back for more information and research. As a way to increase the engagement, PRS decided to hold a workshop for MLAs. For this, we partnered with Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, and held our first workshop for MLAs from Jan 3-6, 2011. In the first edition of the workshop, we had 44 MLAs participating from a dozen states across India. The response was overwhelmingly positive (see short videos of MLA feedback here), with requests from MLAs to hold more such workshops for other MLAs as well. Several also wanted longer duration workshops on important policy issues. We see this as a small beginning for a sustained engagement with our MLAs.
Discussion on the first no-confidence motion of the 17th Lok Sabha began today. No-confidence motions and confidence motions are trust votes, used to test or demonstrate the support of Lok Sabha for the government in power. Article 75(3) of the Constitution states that the government is collectively responsible to Lok Sabha. This means that the government must always enjoy the support of a majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Trust votes are used to examine this support. The government resigns if a majority of members support a no-confidence motion, or reject a confidence motion.
So far, 28 no-confidence motions (including the one being discussed today) and 11 confidence motions have been discussed. Over the years, the number of such motions has reduced. The mid-1960s and mid-1970s saw more no-confidence motions, whereas the 1990s saw more confidence motions.
Figure 1: Trust votes in Parliament
Note: *Term shorter than 5 years; **6-year term.
Source: Statistical Handbook 2021, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; PRS.
The no-confidence motion being discussed today was moved on July 26, 2023. A motion of no-confidence is moved with the support of at least 50 members. The Speaker has the discretion to allot time for discussion of the motion. The Rules of Procedure state that the motion must be discussed within 10 days of being introduced. This year, the no-confidence motion was discussed 13 calendar days after introduction. Since the introduction of the no-confidence motion on July 26, 12 Bills have been introduced and 18 Bills have been passed by Lok Sabha. In the past, on four occasions, the discussion on no-confidence motions began seven days after their introduction. On these occasions, Bills and other important issues were debated before the discussion on the no-confidence motion began.
Figure 2: Members rise in support of the motion of no-confidence in Lok Sabha