The 1999 No-Trust Motion That Former PM Vajpayee Lost by One Vote

The death knell was sounded for his coalition when its second biggest party, the AIADMK, pulled out.

2 min read
The 1999 No-Trust Motion That Former PM Vajpayee Lost by One Vote

The Lok Sabha is geared up for the no-confidence motion at 6 pm on Friday, 20 July, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident of winning. However, if we go down memory lane, BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee lost one of the most intense votes of confidence back in 1999.

Here’s some context: Vajpayee’s first term as PM ended in just 13 days in May 1996 because despite BJP being the single largest party, it failed to muster enough support to prove its majority.


In an explosive speech in the Lower House before submitting his resignation, Vajpayee took full responsibility for the BJP’s failure at proving majority but assured the opposition that it would get “full support” in running the House from BJP if they formed a stable government.

“We will continue working for the country, we assure you that until we fulfil our national duty, we won't rest. Mister Speaker, here comes my resignation,” Vajpayee said.

After the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came back to power in 1998, Vajpayee’s reign lasted only 13 months.

The death knell was sounded for his coalition as its second biggest party, the AIADMK, pulled out, and he lost the no-trust motion.

This led to a vote-of-confidence motion in the parliament, where the government lost by 272-273 (1 vote), thus leading to new general elections in 1999.

However, the opposition too, under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, failed to come up with the numbers. Hence, the Lok Sabha was dissolved.

The third time was the charm for Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the BJP-led NDA won 303 seats out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and secured a stable majority. On 13 October 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee took oath as Prime Minister of India for the third time and became the first non-Congress PM to serve a full five-year term.

The last no-confidence motion came in 2003. It was moved by Sonia Gandhi and was defeated comfortably by Vajpayee.

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