The country has been thrust into a new political course that was not widely intended by the people struggling to come out the scourge of COVID-19 pandemic. The three-year-old KP Sharma Oli-led majority government has lost confidence, pushing the country into a new political fluidity. Now the process of making an alternative government has kicked off. After Prime Minister and chairman of CPN-UML KP Sharma Oli lost vote of confidence in the federal parliament on Monday, President Bidya Devi Bhandari has called upon the political parties to constitute a new government as per Article 76 (2) of the constitution. Prior to the President’s call, leaders of three opposition parties - Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) - had urged the President to start the process of the formation of new government in the wake of the rejection of confidence vote to the PM in the House. As per the presidential call, the parties will have to name a new prime minister for new government with majority support by Thursday.
In February 2018, Oli had formed a government with almost two-thirds majority but had all of a sudden it fell into minority after a Supreme Court ruling invalidated the merger of the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre into Nepal Communist Party (NCP). In fact, the court verdict had ended the existence of a party plagued by intense bickering and factionalism. The ever deepening chasm within the leadership had taken the party on the brink of breakup, more so after the dissolution of the House. Even after the restoration of the House, the NCP failed to maintain the spirit of unity. Disgruntled leaders within the revived UML demand that the party should return to its former status of Jestha 2, 2075 B.S. and move as per the mandate of its 9th convention.
To retain his position, PM Oli was required to muster 136 votes in 271-member House of Representatives (HoR) but only 93 lawmakers voted for him while 124 stood against him. Around 28 UML lawmakers from Nepal faction were absent during the voting. About 15 lawmakers stayed neutral in the special session of the House attended by a total of 232 lawmakers. Prior to the crucial voting, the ruling and opposition leaders aired their views for and against the vote of confidence motion. PM Oli, while elaborating the gains of his administration in the field of reconstruction, anti-COVID-19 campaign and economic development, asked the House members to cast votes for him so as to ensure stability and good governance in the nation. Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba said that current situation resulted from the latter’s ego fed by numbers, political anarchy, bad governance and corruption. CPN- Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ accused the PM of not respecting the verdict of the Supreme Court and not following democratic ethos.
However, the opposition parties have a tricky path ahead. The NC and the Maoist Centre command only 110 votes altogether. They need additional 26 votes to reach the magic number of 136 to form a new government. JSP chair Upendra Yadav is with NC and Maoist Centre but Mahantha Thakur, another chair of the party, has announced not to join the process of forming a new government, dealing a blow to the plan of opposition camp. Thakur has developed good rapport with the Prime Minister and is convinced that the latter would fulfil the demands of his party. Nepal-led faction seems to be a last hope for those determined to lead the new government. However, the parties should not be hostage of indecision and must give early outlet to the nation suffering the impact of the pandemic and looming economic recession. Political uncertainties should not linger during such a crisis time.