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April 17, 1999
Vajpayee loses confidence vote by 1 vote
In a historic development, the 13-month old Vajpayee government was voted out in the Lok Sabha today by a margin of one vote.
The BJP ruling coalition secured 269 votes while the opposition got 270.
Declaring the result, Speaker G M C Balayogi, after an hour-long voting process, said the motion of confidence moved by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been defeated.
Vajpayee said he had convened a meeting of the Union cabinet to discuss the present political situation.
Asked if he would now submit his resignation to President K R Narayanan, he said, ''Certainly...But I have convened a cabinet meeting immediately''.
Asked what went wrong, Home Minister L K Advani said voting was on expected lines. What happened was that the Bahujan Samaj Party and National Conference member Saifuddin Soz voted against the government, tilting the balance in favour of the opposition.
If there had been a tie, Speaker G M C Balayogi would have exercised his casting vote, Advani added.
Coming out of the Lok Sabha, a beaming leader of the opposition Sharad Pawar, asked what would follow, said, ''Let the prime minister resign first''.
The voting took place after two days of spirited debate on the failures and achievements of the Vajpayee government.
When the electronic voting results gave an indication of things to come, Congress members including Sharad Pawar went to Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and congratulated her for voting against the government.
The five-member BSP had last night announced that it would abstain from voting describing both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress as ''anti-Dalit.''
In his hour-long reply, Vajpayee accused the Congress of resorting to ''sinister'' moves to remove his government. He also stoutly defended the performance of his government.
Pawar said the Congress would try to form a stable government at the earliest.
Former Prime Minister I K Gujral said, "The result of the confidence motion is before everyone to see. It really needs some modification in the system so that we don't have frequent changes in the government system''.
Another former prime minister, H D Deve Gowda just smiled when reporters approached him. ''No comment'', he said when asked for his reaction. Deve Gowda's confidant C M Ibrahim said, ''We are very happy''.
Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said time had now come to give India a ''new secular'' government.
Rajya Sabha nominated member Shabana Azmi said elections appeared to be round the corner.
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