Opposition pulls all stops, crosses 100 mark in division in RS on Delhi Services Bill 

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attends the discussion on the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 in Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on August 7, 2023.
| Photo Credit: ANI/Sansad TV

In a keenly contested vote on the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the Opposition fell short by 29 votes, but sees it as a psychological victory where the coalition stood united keeping its ranks intact. This is the first defeat for the newly formed INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) coalition. By some estimates it could also be the first time an Opposition bloc has crossed the 100 mark in a division in the Upper House. 

The last time the Opposition came this close to the government in the Upper House was in July 2019, when The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, better known as Triple Talaq Bill, was put to vote after a lengthy debate. The Opposition got 84 members to vote against the Bill as opposed to the government’s 99 members who voted in favour of it. Back then, as per the Opposition’s own internal analysis there were at least 30 absentees. 

This time round, the Opposition pulled all stops to ensure a full attendance. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh came in a wheelchair and sat in the House for more than two and a half hours to cast his vote. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) patriarch Shibu Soren was also assisted into the house. Janata Dal (United) MP Bashistha Narain Singh arrived in an ambulance. 

The Opposition ranks were depleted by at least three votes – Sanjay Singh of AAP was under suspension, JD(U)‘s Harivansh chaired the division and thus couldn’t vote, and Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) fourth member, Praful Patel, who had switched allegiance, was absent. Two Trinamool Congress MPs are under treatment outside Delhi. 

“We fought this battle sincerely. I have been told that this is the first time an Opposition bloc has crossed the 100 mark in a division in Rajya Sabha. It is a moral victory for us,” Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’ Brien said. 

Mr. Sanjay Singh, AAP’s floor leader, who is currently under suspension, thanked all members of the INDIA coalition. He posted on X (formerly Twitter), “The campaign to save democracy will continue. In 2024, the dictatorship of Modi-Amit Shah will end.”

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