Motion of Thanks is a motion in Indian Parliament which follows the address of the President of India to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the commencement of first session of a new Lok Sabha and first session of every year.
• President’s address is the speech delivered by the President of India to both Houses of Parliament assembled together at the commencement of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha and at the commencement of the first session of each year (this is usually the budget session). This speech is a statement of the government policy and is approved by the cabinet.
• The president highlights legislative and policy activities of the government, achievements of the previous year and broad agenda of the upcoming year.
• This address is followed by a Motion of Thanks, which is moved in each house by an MP of the ruling party.
• The deliberations on this motion last for three to four days. The deliberations allow the opposition to critically discuss the government’s vision, scope and policies.
• At the end of these discussions, the Prime Minister gives replies to the points or questions raised.
• After the reply of the PM is over, the Members of Parliament vote on this motion of thanks. This motion must be passed in both of the houses. A failure to get motion of thanks passed (which may happen rarely) amounts to defeat of government and leads to collapse of government.
• This is why, the Motion of Thanks is deemed to be a no-confidence motion. However, before such voting, some members may also move amendment to the address. Such amendments may be: for emphasising or adding issues addressed by the president for including some issues or highlight some issues which did not find mention in the speech there have already been three instances so far.
Amendment to Motion of Thanks
For the second year in a row, an Opposition-sponsored amendment to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address has been adopted by the Rajya Sabha. Last year, the Motion of Thanks was amended on the issue of black money; this year, the amendment focussed on legislation passed by Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Rajasthan and Haryana limiting the rights of citizens to contest panchayat elections. Before 2015, there were just three occasions on which the President’s Address was amended in the Rajya Sabha, once each during the tenures of Indira Gandhi, V.P. Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The first instance of such an amendment to the Motion of Thanks came in 1980 on the issue of engineering defections. The second was in 1989, when six amendments — including on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute and the India-Sri Lanka accord — were approved. The third occasion was in 2001, when the House adopted an amendment on the sale of a public sector undertaking, Balco, to a private company. These were all politically contentious issues. So was the issue on which the Opposition parties mobilised themselves this year, and it raises vital questions for democracy.