POLITICS Trouble for the Coalition

The coalition government led by Prachanda, which was formed in an unexpected move more than a month ago, is in trouble following the resignation of four Rashtriya Swatantra Party ministers.

Feb. 12, 2023, 11:20 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 16, No. 12, Feb.10, 2023 (Magh 27. 2079) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

The press conference and statement issued by Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) leader Rabi Lamichhane accusing his rival and the media fraternity are still shaking the society and political process.

Nepal's major media outlets are challenging Lamichhane, demanding proof of his accusation. Nepal's political process is twisting and turning, with no sign of abating anytime soon.

As President Bidhya Bhandari accepted the resignations of Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) ministers, the future of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda's government is uncertain.

Although the RSP has stated that it will continue to support the government, the prime minister has begun efforts to court Madhav Nepal's CPN US and Upendra Yadav's Janta Samajbadi Party.

Given the unpredictable nature of RSP leader Rabi Lamichhane, it is natural for Prime Minister Prachanda to seek support from other parties. However, bringing the CPN-US, led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Upendra Yadav, is a difficult task. Joining the government dominated by his archrival KP Sharma Oli is virtually impossible for CPN-US leader Nepal.

Dividing Parties

As the government is in limbo following the resignation of RSP ministers, disagreement over a consensus candidate is exacerbating the situation.

According to the gentleman's agreement reached between Prime Minister Prachanda and CPN-UML leader Oli, the CPN-UML controls both the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President. However, the vast majority of Maoist leaders are opposed to this.

The Nepali Congress has already stated that if there is no political consensus, their candidate will run in the elections. Given this scenario, Prime Minister Prachada and Oli have already met one-on-one.

According to Oli's Secretariat, during the meetings, UML Chair Oli stated that the Presidential position should be given to the party in accordance with the previous agreement, and that the party would finalize the candidate's name after intra-party discussions.

Similarly, Prime Minister 'Prachanda' emphasized the importance of maintaining unity among the ruling partners at all costs. He stated, "I attempted unity; I support national consensus. The ruling alliance must remain cohesive."

During their meeting at Oli's private residence in Balkot, the two agreed to convene a high-level political mechanism to discuss the upcoming presidential election.

Prachanda and Oli.jpg

"We have agreed to arrange a meeting of the high-level political mechanism and discuss the Presidential elections tomorrow," Prime Minister Dahal said after the meeting. Our efforts will be directed toward finding a more convenient path forward."

Following the Court's Decision

Lamichhane has been removed from his positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister as a result of the Supreme Court's decision. A series of political events occurred. Lamichhane, the leader of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), resigned from the DPM and the Home Ministry and obtained new citizenship.

Four cabinet ministers resigned. The party has decided to continue its support for the government while withdrawing its ministers from the Cabinet. RSP Chair Rabi Lamichhane announced the decisions of the RSP's central committee and parliamentary party meeting.

The Supreme Court last week invalidated Ravi Lamichhane's status as a member of parliament, citing that the citizenship he used to contest the election was invalid.

The Supreme Court's certiorari order nullified Home Minister Lamichhane's positions as both a legislator and a minister. The verdict was issued by a constitutional bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Hari Krishna Karki, justices Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Prasad Katiwada, Dr. Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, and Anil Kumar Sinha.

In the case of citizenship and passport, the Supreme Court found Lamichhane guilty. Lamichhane was elected to the House of Representatives (HoR) from Chitwan 2 a month ago and appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister.

Lamichhane is also the president of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), which has 20 legislators in the House of 275. Following the Supreme Court's decision, a by-election will be held in Chitwan's Constituency No. 2.

The verdict stated, "Lamichhane was discovered not following the legal process to reclaim Nepali citizenship after giving up his US citizenship. As a result, he did not deserve to be a House of Representatives candidate, nor could he serve in that capacity. With this, a certiorari order is issued in accordance with Articles 133 (b and c) and 137 of the Nepalese Constitution, halting all activities such as making Lamichhane an election candidate, announcing his election victory, and conferring him with the certificate."

The coming days will be politically difficult for Prime Minister Prachanda. Given the growing schism over the presidential candidate, it is not impossible for Prachanda to form a new coalition with the Nepali Congress leaving Oli.

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