Monday, 10 May, 2021

Unparliamentary Act

CHIEF Minister of Karnali Province Mahendra Bahadur Shahi has pulled off a surprise after his government survived the no-confidence motion after four CPN-UML parliamentarians violated the party-whip and voted in favour of him. Though the UML in the state had registered the no-confidence motion against the Shahi government, it came a cropper with the UML lawmakers crossing the floor in the Karnali Provincial Assembly. Never in the history of Nepali politics, the representatives of a party that had registered a censure motion against the head of a government had neglected the party whip and crossed the floor.
The floor-crossing act has, needless to say, ignited seething anger among the UML's establishment side headed by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Yam Lal Kandel, UML's parliamentary leader in the Karnali Provincial Assembly, has already initiated party action against the rebel members whose party membership would be revoked because the "four who crossed the floor had committed a political crime." Party spokesperson and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali termed the dissent as an unpardonable act. Senior leader Subas Nembang aired the same view over the act that saw the UML sponsored no-confidence motion biting the dust.
The incumbent government garnered 22 votes out of 37 votes cast. Although Chief Minister Shahi had required 19 votes to survive, his party - CPN- Maoist Centre - had only 12 members in the Provincial Assembly. Shahi, however, brought off an improbable victory after six of the Nepali Congress and four UML rebel members voted for his government. One RPP member refrained from the voting. The UML's other 15 parliamentarians cast their ballots against the chief minister. The survival of the Shahi government is a glaring example of a deepening rift within the ruling UML which has been divided into two factions - one is led by the Prime Minister Oli and another by former prime minister duo, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalnath Khanal. The four of the UML members who crossed the floor are the members loyal to the Nepal-Khanal group that has formed UML parallel bodies in many districts lately.
Now many in the UML and outside of it have felt that the same rebellion could take place in other states where the UML-headed state governments are confronting challenges for their continuation after the Maoist Centre and other parties in the assemblies sought their replacements through a no-confidence motion. Some say the federal parliament can witness the rebellion from the ruling party representatives. The four rebels have raised the alarm bell for the UML leadership that must seek to end the current rift if they have to save the party from a formal split. The chasm in the party is so profound that the leaders opposing the establishment side have expressed that they had no worry of what consequences their action would attract to them. This is undeniably a grievous situation which calls for soul searching by the UML leaders. The four rebels in Karnali had revolted the leadership by defying the party whip, bringing disrepute to the party. It has been described as unparliamentary act on part of rebel lawmakers, which echoes the ongoing intra-party squabble and should act as an eye-opener for the leadership of both sides.