By Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Feb 26, The Nepali Congress Party chief Sher Bahadur Deuba has emerged as the kingmaker in Nepal politics as both factions of the Communist Party try to woo him and may eventually even turn out to be the king amidst twists and turns in the countrys political scenario.
After the Supreme Court overturned Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve Parliament and directed that a meeting of the House of Representatives be convened by March 8, rival political parties are vying to form a new government. As a result the main opposition Congress party, which has 63 MPs, has taken the centre stage.
Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the Nepal Communist Party led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party.
Both factions of the Nepal Communist Party, led by Oli as well as Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal are in talks with the Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba.
While PM Oli is formulating a phased strategy, Dahal-Nepal supporters are not clear whether the fight against him is within his own party’s parliamentary party.
The CPN (Maoist), which was given the mandate to run the government for five years with two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives, has split into two factions after three years due to infighting.
Both splinter groups in the CPN convened a meeting of their supporters on Wednesday to decide on the future course. Oli’s rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party, has made it clear that he was in favour of Party’s unity but it is not possible to support Oli. He has said, “Oli should resign after the verdict and that would be beneficial for party unity.”
But Oli is adamant. He also had a meeting with his supporters on the same day and his aides say he would face the House rather than resign.
But political experts think that though reinstatement of Parliament has definitely been a rude shock to PM K P S Oli, his exit appears imminent by the time the House assembles by March 8 as directed by the Court.
“But the exit of Oli will not necessarily lead to political stability in Nepal,” says Yuvraj Ghimere, the editor in Chief of Nepali paper Deshsanchar.com.
Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Dev Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives 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 party.
Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the Nepal Communist Party led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party. Oli repeatedly defended his move to dissolve the House, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “parallel government”.
Oli was leading the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, and Prachanda represented the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist). Following the merger, the two leaders agreed that they would lead the government by turn, a promise that Oli did not honour at the end of his two-and-a-half years, thus sowing the seeds of separation.
Though the ruling party is not split legally, the Oli faction has 83 members, his rivals Prachanda-Madhav Nepal faction controls 90 seats in the reinstated parliament, while the Nepali Congress has 61 and the JSP 32 out of the 275 seats in the parliament. For a no-confidence motion to pass and to form a government, the number is 138.
But for that to happen, the Nepal Communist Party has to split legally first. With around 83 MPs on his side, Oli will need the support of 55 lawmakers to win the vote of confidence. And this is possible only if the Nepali Congress, which has 63 seats, supports him.
To get the magic number, Both factions of the Nepal Communist Party, led by Oli as well as Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal are in touch with the Nepal Congress Party led by Deuba, the four-time prime minister of the country, who is watching the situation.
According to leaders of The Nepal Congress Party leaders, both Oli and Dahal-Nepal factions have been offering prime ministership to Deuba, and many Congress leaders believe that given the party president’s history, he is highly likely to take the bait. “The role of Nepali Congress will be defined based on how Dahal and Nepal will take forward their party,” said Congress leader Minendra Rija to the Kathmandu Post. “We have nothing to say in the change of the Parliamentary Party leader of the Nepal Communist Party. Yes, if the Nepal Communist Party splits and there is a situation, our party can consider its role in the formation of a new government.”