Oli set to be reappointed as Nepal PM as Opposition fails to muster majority support

Kathmandu, May 13 (PTI) K P Sharma Oli was set to be reappointed as Nepal Prime Minister as the Opposition alliance of Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) on Thursday failed to muster majority support to form the next government. President Bidya Devi Bhandari had asked the Opposition parties to come up with the support of majority lawmakers to form a new government by 9 PM on Thursday after Oli lost a crucial trust vote in the House of Representatives on Monday.

As the Opposition parties failed to claim majority government under article 76 (2) of the Constitution, President Bhandari is likely to re-appoint Oli, 69, as Prime Minister under article 76 (3) tonight, sources said. Although Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba had received support from CPN Maoist chairman Pushpakamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, he could not get support from Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP).
JSP’s President Upendra Yadav had assured to support Deuba but the party’s another president Mahanta Thakur had rejected the idea.

Nepali Congress and Maoist Centre have 61 and 49 seats in the lower house. Their combined strength was 110, which is insufficient to win majority vote. At present 136 votes are needed to form a majority government. JSP has 32 seats in the House. If JSP had extended support Deuba would get chance to claim for PM.

The UML has 121 seats in the 275 member House. Madhav Nepal faction with 28 MPs had decided not to tender enmasse resignation after caretaker Prime Minister Oli and Nepal had inked a deal on Thursday. Oli withrew the action taken against four UML leaders including Nepal and assured to address their other demands. If 28 UML MPs had resigned, the total strength of the House of Representatives would be reduced to 243. Currently there are 271 valid members in the House. If they had resigned only 122 votes would be sufficient to stake claim for majority government. Earlier, Nepali Congress president Deuba and CPN-Maoist Centre chairman “Prachanda” held a meeting at the former’s residence to discuss the formation of the new government.

Similarly, caretaker Prime Minister and chairman of ruling CPN-UML Oli and dissident leader of the party Madhav Kumar Nepal held a meeting in an attempt to make the last effort to patch up their differences. Earlier, Baburam Bhattarai, a senior leader of JSP-N, said all parties needed to form a new national coalition government and hold elections in one year.

Bhattarai said such a government should not be led by a former prime minister or the current prime minister. Bhattarai said such a government should be run based on a common minimum programme, should resolve the COVID crisis, and ensure economic relief packages, constitution amendment, and truth and reconciliation. Given the parties’ strengths and particularly the factional feuds in the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi, many say the current numbers game is just a futile exercise and that the country, which has had eight different governments in a decade, would sooner or later head towards early polls, the Kathmandu Post reported.

After Oli lost the trust vote, the NC, the CPN -MC and the faction of the JSP led by Yadav urged President Bhandari to invoke Article 76 (2) of the Constitution to pave the way for the formation of a new government. It says in cases where no party has a clear majority in the House, the President shall appoint as the prime minister a member of the House who can command the majority with the support of two or more parties in the lower house of Parliament.

If two or more political parties failed to give a majority Prime Minister by Thursday evening then the President will invite parties to submit the name of a minority Prime Minister from the largest party as per Article 76 sub-clause 3 of the Constitution.

In that case, Oli, whose party has 121 seats in Parliament, may again claim stake as the new prime minister. If Oli is appointed under the Constitution, he also needs to win the vote of confidence within 30 days from the date of the appointment. Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival ‘Prachanda’. In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls. Known for his pro-China stance, Oli had earlier served as the country’s prime minister from October 11, 2015 to August 3, 2016 during which Kathmandu’s ties with New Delhi had strained.
Nepal’s COVID-19 cases reached 431,191 as 8,842 fresh cases were reported in the past 24 hours on Thursday. As many as 214 more deaths were also logged, taking the national toll to 4,466. 

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