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Governing Indian Coalition Defeats No-Confidence Motion

In India, an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the coalition government has been defeated.

At the end of an acrimonious two-day debate, it was an easy victory for the Bharatiya Janata party-led coalition government. The opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion was defeated by a convincing margin of more than a 100 votes, with 186 lawmakers voting for the motion, and 312 voting against it.

Tempers often flared during the discussion, as ruling coalition members angrily rejected opposition charges of corruption and inefficiency against the government.

The debate was dominated by allegations that defense purchases in recent years have been riddled with corruption.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee strongly defended his governments performance. He also said the opposition had failed to back its claims of corruption in defense deals with any evidence.

Mr. Vajpayee expressed surprise that the no-confidence motion was placed when his government was stable, and at a time when the country was making progress on several fronts.

The leader of the main opposition Congress party accused the government of failing to give satisfactory answers to issues she had raised. Sonia Gandhi had accused the government of weakening national security, and jeopardizing the country's defenses.

She said the ruling party had not have given adequate answers to these issues in parliament, but would have to give an answer to the people of the nation.

Ms. Gandhi was referring to key elections that are to be held in the country. Four states go to the polls later in the year, and general elections are to be held next year.

Political analysts say the Congress party pressed ahead with the no-confidence vote despite facing certain defeat in a bid to identify future political alliances in these elections.

Commentators also say the debate in parliament has set the stage for the coming polls between the two main contenders: Mr. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party and Ms. Gandhi's Congress party.