Nepal PM In Search Of Survival Mantra

Nepal Parliament

Nepal Parliament

By R C Saldi

Kathmandu/New Delhi, 22 July: The No Confidence Motion against Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli registered on July 13 was to come up in Parliament for debate and voting on the 21st -the day when the mandatory weeks’ notice period was completed. But the debate was deferred as the House could not achieve a consensus on whether to take up first the budget or the no confidence.

Prime Minister’s alliance partner, Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist Centre is spearheading the no trust challenge.

During the past one week unprecedented political game plans were at work with one side putting pressure on the Prime Minister to resign and the other trying to create fissures among the parties who had tabled the no confidence motion to woo their member to save the government from imminent fall.

More than 280 members belonging to the main opposition, Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal Maoist Centre and the United Democratic Madeshi Front had signed the no confidence motion. Another 60 members also supported the Motion. The government needs 298 votes to survive in the House with effective strength of 595 members.

Normally, a no confidence motion against any incumbent government takes precedence over all other business before the House but surprisingly the ruling alliance insisted upon the House first approving the three bills relating to Budget. A meeting with all major stake holders by the Speaker before the House met on 21st could not break the ice and the House was adjourned first for three hours and finally for the day.

The Speaker Onsari Gharti informed President Vidya Devi Bhandari of the developments. Her office said: “if there is no consensus, no confidence motion will be priority of the House.”

But in such an event, the government side had already announced that it would block the proceedings of the House.

What a paradox? The ruling parties would hold the House hostage, if they go by their stated plans.

Prime Minister K.P.Sharma Oli has blamed India for his troubles, alleging that New Delhi was trying to topple his regime.

One of his deputies, and a senior leader of his party, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), Bhim Rawal also has held India responsible for the political turmoil. India has categorically rejected these claims and said what is happening in Nepal today is its internal matter.

It is not for the first time that New Delhi has sought to been made a scapegoat for internal strife and lust for power in the Himalayan nation. Earlier in last May also when Oli faced a similar situation, the southern neighbor was blamed for the happenings.

What prompted the Central Committee of the CPN Maoist Centre and its chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal, ‘Prachanda’ to withdraw support to the Oli government just a month after staging a volte-face on a similar motion? At least in May there was this fig leaf of support from Nepali Congress to the formation of Prachanda-led alternative government?

It is widely known in political circles that Prachanda saved the Oli government in May following outside interference. The reference was not to India. It was to China, Nepal’s northern neighbor, which is keen on stability of the Oli government.

This time too, a Chinese delegation is in Kathmandu to garner support in favour of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. Direct feelers were sent to Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel who is known to wield considerable influence and following in the party, apparently to create division in NC ranks. But the game failed.

Poudel has however offered a face saver to Oli. He said the Opposition will withdraw the no confidence motion if the Prime Minister quits on his own. His four point package was — Opposition withdraws the no trust notice, PM resigns Sharma Oli, sort out constitutional complexities for the election of [new] prime minister, and all parties working in tandem for the implementation of the constitution.

The ruling CPN-UML leader Subas Nembang welcome the offer as positive but a meeting of Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Centre) and Madhes based parties held on Friday, July 22, has shot it down. No question of going back on no trust vote, they said plunging the ruling camp into a fresh round of hectic parleys.

Both the ruling side and the Opposition have consulted constitutional experts for their next move but as things stand the no confidence motion is likely to be debated and voted in Parliament in a day or two which could pave the way for the installation of a new government.

If no consensus is reached on the agenda of the proceedings in Parliament, the Speaker is likely to take up the no confidence motion for debate on precedence as already announced by her. But if the proceedings are blocked by the ruling alliance, the Speaker Onsari Gharti might have to take some hard decisions.

In that case the crisis within the CPN (UML) is likely to aggravate, and the Prime Minister Oli, who is already facing flak for his style of functioning and his handling of the Madhesi agitation, will find his position weakening further. (Syndicate Features)