Sunday, 24 October, 2021

A Timely Feasible Step

President Bidya Devi Bhandari on early Saturday dissolved the House of Representatives (HoR) and called for fresh general elections on November 12 and 19 on the recommendation of the government. The termination of the Lower House of Parliament came after the President repudiated the petitions of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Nepali Congress (NC) president Sher Bahadur Deuba that they submitted to form the government under their leadership. She termed the applications of both leaders insufficient to designate any of the two as new prime minister. The House dissolution materialised as per Article 76 (7) of the constitution, which maintains that the President can dissolve the House on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and can set the date of fresh polls if the freshly appointed Prime Minister cannot secure the vote of trust or prime minister cannot be nominated.

The President dismissed the HoR following the days of the unsavoury political drama. Following the President's call to form the new government as per Article 76 (5) of the charter, PM Oli and NC president Deuba separately submitted their claims to form the new government on Friday afternoon. The PM submitted his petition, insisting that a total of 153 HoR members supported him for the formation of the new government as per Article 76 (5). The representatives included 121 UML legislators and 32 lawmakers from the Janata Samajwadi Party. Deuba had put forth the signatures of 149 lawmakers consisting of 61 Nepali Congress HoR members, 49 from the CPN-Maoist Centre, 26 from the UML’s Nepal-Khanal faction and 12 from the JSP. The claim and submission of the number of HoR members created confusion. Since the HoR had only 271 members, of which five were suspended, the total number submitted crossed the actual number of House members.

The House dissolution has undoubtedly put to rest the unpleasant political schemes that were going around for tarnishing the reputation of the President and the Prime Minister and generating a politically chaotic situation. This timely step has freed the country from falling prey to chaos and anarchy. At a press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister had made a passionate appeal to the parties to create a national government under his premiership, which the opposition parties denied and concentrated on collecting the required numbers to reciprocate the President's call to stake their claim for a new government. Some of the representatives of the ruling party sided with the opposition leaders and registered their signatures. Likewise, 12 JSP House members followed suit, giving rise to confusion regarding the authenticity of their loyalty.

The unpleasant political activities that came to haunt the nation lately did not portend well for the nation at a time when concerted efforts were required to deal with many challenges, including the controlling of coronavirus pandemic. A timely and constitutionally granted step from the President was necessary to stop the opposition groups from engaging in their moves to destabilise politics at this very testing period. The HoR dissolution will allow the government to concentrate their attention to negotiate with the pandemic situation, at least for the next six months when the nation goes for fresh polls to elect a new parliament.