POLITCS: Forming New Alliances

The ongoing political deadlock regarding Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane is likely to disrupt the long-standing monopoly of political power held by three parties for more than two decades.

May 27, 2024, 10:35 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 17, No. 20, May.24,2024 (Jestha-11. 2081) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane's refusal to step down, despite facing opposition from supporters and the recent arrest of Kailash Shiroia, a media mogul and chairman of Kantipur Media Group, is deepening the divide between the ruling coalition of Maoist and CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress.

Even the Rastriya Prajantantra Party (RPP), a pro-monarchist party, has criticized the arrest of KMG chair Shiroia, citing it as an attack on press freedom.

RPP leader Rajendra Lingden and senior member Rabindra Mishra released a statement claiming that the arrest was motivated by personal animosity between the Home Minister and Shiroia.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli have come out in support of Home Minister Lamichhane's decision to arrest Shiroia.

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Prime Minister Prachanda recently stated that there is no need to create a fuss over the arrest of Kailash Shiroia, as it was done in accordance with a court order. Echoing Prachanda's sentiments, Oli emphasized that arresting an individual for investigation does not infringe upon media freedom. He urged people not to equate arrest with media freedom.

The Nepali Congress has accused the government of arresting a media owner for covering the Cooperative scandal involving DPM Lamichhane. NC leader Bimlendra Nidhi stated that if the ruling parties have concerns, the government should investigate the dual passport and citizenship issue of Home Minister Lamichhane. Nidhi believes that Kailash is innocent and a victim of political vendetta.

As the stalemate in parliament persists, the government has decided to present its political agenda and programs for a vote. Speaker Deb Raj Ghimire is assisting the government in tabling these policies and programs before the parliament. It is anticipated that Speaker Ghimire will deploy a significant number of forces inside the parliament to prevent any attempts of obstruction from opposition parties, similar to what occurred during the vote of confidence motion.

The Congress, the main opposition party, has been blocking Parliament for an extended period, demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the cooperative fraud issue. They have warned of protests if an agreement is not reached on the formation of the committee.

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Opposition parties, led by the Congress, have accused Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ravi Lamichhane of involvement in the cooperative fraud case and are pushing for a parliamentary inquiry committee to be established.

Amidst the ongoing deadlock, both ruling and opposition parties are engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a consensus on the terms of reference (ToR) for the inquiry committee. While the ruling party is open to investigating the troubled cooperatives, they are adamant that Home Minister Lamichhane's name should not be excluded.

The Congress maintains that Lamichhane must be investigated for his alleged role in misappropriating funds from the cooperatives.

Based on the current situation, it is improbable that an agreement will be reached to open the house. Consequently, the government is expected to cancel the House and is likely to announce the new budget through an ordinance. As a result, the three parties that possess complete control over state power are anticipated to fragment, thereby creating opportunities for new political alliances to emerge.

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