POLITICS Unfolding Challenges

With politics divided on the issue of forming the new government and vote of no-confidence motion, Prime Minister K.P.Sharma Oli is giving life to the present government

April 5, 2021, 11:26 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 14 No. 15, April 02, 2021 (Chaitra 20, 2077) Publisher: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Having different opinions regarding future political strategy including selecting new prime minister and vote of no-confidence among opponents of PM Oli, the strength of his government continues to grow.

Although CPN-MC leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal has announced that his party will withdraw support to the government any time soon, he is not making any announcement on who will lead the government and when they will table a vote of no-confidence.

According to the provision of the present constitution, it is not legally mandatory for Prime Minister Oli to seek a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives. Given the present numbers of seats, even if prime minister Oli did not get the majority, he can again recommend the dissolution of the House and seek fresh elections for November.

CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said that his party would withdraw support to the government within a day or two no matter what the consequences.

Dahal said his attempt was to forge consensus among the Nepali Congress, CPN-MC and Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal as these parties had opposed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's 'unconstitutional and undemocratic' move of dissolving the House of Representatives.

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"We want to do two things simultaneously: register a no-trust motion and withdraw support to the government," said Dahal. He said that political leaders had always taken bold steps in recent years from the time of the 12-point agreement till now. “We will come out with a common agenda to pull down the government and form a new coalition,” said Dahal.

However, the political game is not as easy as Dahal visualizes. At a time when Nepali Congress leaders are giving priority to holding the general convention in August. Overwhelming CPN-UML parliamentary members backing PM Oli and division in CPN-MC have made overthrowing the Oli’s government a tough task.

Seconding second generation leader Minendra Rijal at a public meeting, Nepali Congress has shown that the party prefers its general convention rather than indulging in power game.

Rijal has made it clear that NC will support a no trust motion against the Oli government. His party would vote in favor of the motion."We never had trust in PM Oli,” said Rijal.

As an opposition party, it is natural for NC to vote in favor of the motion. However, there is no certainty that the opposition will muster the required magic numbers to pull down the government.

Janta Samajbadi Party-Nepal is yet to open its card on no-trust motion and new government. JSP-N Co-chair Mahantha Thakur said his party was mainly concerned about its demands.

“Our party lawmaker is in jail, our provincial assembly member and other cadres face cases for taking part in agitation, we want our cadres and leaders released from jails and the false cases against them withdrawn,” said Thakur.

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“Our party was given importance when the need to form a coalition government arose, not on other occasions,” said Tahkur expressing anger over political parties. “Madhesis were never viewed positively in the nationalism debate.”

He said that other leaders, including Dahal, could be a victim now, but did not have to face the problems that the marginalized communities were facing.

As Maoist leader Prachanda and faction of CPN-UML led by Nepal and Khanal, have been making efforts to weaken Oli, PM Oli had told the parliamentary party meeting that Nepal and Bhim Bahadur Rawal face punitive action for penning accusatory clarifications against him.

CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who leads the rival faction of the ruling party, said the SC gave a strange decision when it nullified the unification that had resulted in formation of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

He said he would not be deterred by PM Oli's action, and that he stood steadfast in his counter-charge against Oli and his decision not to go to Baluwatar to attend party meetings.

Nepal-Khanal faction threatens legal battle

The Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhalanath Khanal faction of CPN-UML decided to urge the party leadership to call a meeting of the central committee that existed before the CPN-UML merged with the CPN-Maoist Centre.

“We have decided to fight a legal battle if the party leadership did not call the CC meeting,” said Surendra Pandey, Nepal-Jhanalanth faction leader.

However, UML Chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli have refused to rescind his decision to amend the party statute and induct 23 former Maoist leaders in the party Central Committee.

The faction has threatened to revive parallel committees if party Chair Oli does not revive committees that existed before the UML's merger with the CPN-MC. The Nepal-Khanal faction has said that they had maintained their majority in the party committees, but Oli unilaterally amended the party statute to ensure his own majority in the party

PM Oli To Take Action Against Nepal

At a time when Nepal-Khanal faction has been making efforts to contain PM Oli, he is putting more pressure on Nepal and his faction saying that it was impossible to withdraw the decisions taken by the party on March 12 and thereafter. PM Oli said there was no chance of backtracking the on decisions of March 12.

PM Oli said since the decision to appoint 23 former Maoist leaders as central committee members was made in accordance with the party’s statute, there was no possibility of withdrawing the decision.

“There exists no faction in the CPN-UML. There is only one party. We will only accept individual criticisms but not the factional one,” said Prime Minister Oli.

As Nepal and Khanal are forging a new alliance, young leaders Gokarna Bista, Yogesh Bhattarai and Ghanashyam Bhusal seem to have been pursuing unity in the party.

New Parliamentary Party Statute

Following the endorsement of amendment of the CPN (UML)'s parliamentary party statute, PM Oli can expel any member who can challenge his position. The new amendment has made parliamentary party leader more powerful.

According to party chief whip Bishal Bhattarai, the statute was amended as it was outdated and revised statute grants a right to the parliamentary leader to suspend up to six months a lawmaker going against the party decision and working against the party interest.

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Similarly, it has the provisions for the parliamentary party leader to nominate the parliamentary party deputy-leader, chief whip and whip, National Assembly's whip and the party's representative.

The meeting unanimously endorsed the decision to form a 24-member Parliamentary Board on the basis of March 18 proposal. The Board comprises parliamentary party leader and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, deputy leader Subash Nembang, chief whip Bhattarai, and whip Shanta Chaudhary, ex-officio member Jhalanath Khanal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Suman Pyakurel, Khimlal Bhattarai, Dr Binda Pandey, Radha Kumari Gyawali and Damodar Pandey among others.

At a time of division in opposition and weakening strength of Nepal-Khanal led faction in CPN-UML, prime minister Oli is yet to face major challenges for his power now.

Oli’s government will test its strength only when the government will present the annual policy and programs in the House of Representatives. In case of the failure of the policies and programs in the parliament, PM Oli will face moral and legal dilemma.

If government policies and programs fail in the House of Representatives, PM Oli may again recommend the dissolution of House of Representatives and elections for November.

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