The passage of the motion, even without discussion, is seen as necessary as Parliament is required to record its thanks for the President’s address to the joint session, and convey the same to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Passage of any amendment though will not alter the President’s address.
“The Motion of Thanks will need to be passed. In the past only a sudden disruption, such as fall of a government, has broken this practice. There is also a precedent of the motion being passed without discussion,” said a senior minister.
While the Motion of Thanks was discussed and passed by Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha has not been able to transact any business since Parliament convened on January 31, when President Ram Nath Kovind delivered a joint address to MPs of both Houses.
While minister of state for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goel has been reaching out to all parties to allow the passage of the motion without any amendments, the opposition has remained resolute in not permitting the Upper House to function on account of a host of issues including the Rafale defence deal, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and the 20-point roster in universities affecting SC/ST appointments.
Government sources said opposition was not allowing discussion on the Motion of Thanks because it wanted to deny Prime Minister Narendra Modi an opportunity to speak in Parliament as in the Lok Sabha discussion. The stalemate between the government and opposition parties has not ended despite Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu holding forth with the floor leaders every day of the session, requesting them to pass the Motion of Thanks since it is a matter of “constitutional propriety”.
With only two working days remaining, opposition sources said they are unlikely to accede to the government’s demand to drop the proposed amendments to the Presidential Address, or to relent on the pressing issues being taken up by each party. Rajya Sabha will also not be able to discuss the Budget, but the Finance Bill will be deemed to have been passed by both Houses since it is a money bill.
In the past, there have been only two instances when the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address was not passed. In 1991, the presidential address could not be discussed or passed following the resignation of the Chandrashekhar government. In 1996, the Motion of Thanks could not be taken up for passage once again after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee resigned after 13 days in office. In 2004, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at the helm of affairs, the Motion of Thanks was passed without discussion owing to repeated disruptions.