Deuba reaches out to Oli amid UML’s continued House obstructionsNo word from the secretariats of either side on the meeting and what the two leaders discussed.
Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba held a meeting with KP Sharma Oli, the chair of the main opposition CPN-UML, on Saturday morning at the latter’s residence in Balkot.
“Prime Minister Deuba reached Balkot at around ten this morning,” said Bhanu Deuba, the prime minister’s chief personal secretary.
The meeting comes amid continued House obstructions by the UML and confusion over the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the $500 million American grant, which has left Nepali political landscape and the society largely divided. The MCC is awaiting parliamentary approval.
Deuba currently leads a five-party alliance in which the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist) are key partners. The two communist parties are led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, Oli’s bete noires.
Both parties are opposed to MCC ratification from the House unless some clauses are amended. Though the UML has not made any position on the MCC, it was during Oli’s tenure then finance minister Yubaraj Khatiwada registered it in Parliament in July 2019.
The MCC has now threatened the ruling coalition as some suspect Deuba and Oli could reach a deal on the passage of the American programme.
Leaders say Saturday’s meeting mainly meant to discuss the House deadlock and the judiciary crisis.
A meeting of the High-Level Political Coordination Committee on Friday suggested that Deuba hold a meeting with Oli to find a way out to the ongoing House obstructions.
“The meeting entrusted the prime minister with the task of holding a meeting with Oli to discuss the ongoing House obstruction,” said Upendra Yadav, chairman of the Janata Samajbadi Party, another partner in the ruling alliance.
The UML has been obstructing the House meetings objecting to the Speaker's refusal to issue a notice in line with the party’s decision to expel 14 lawmakers including Madhav Nepal.
The UML on August 17 expelled the lawmakers and wrote to Speaker Agni Sapkota to issue a notice.
However, Sapkota took no action. Then the government brought an ordinance to ease splits in parties and Madhav Nepal formed CPN (Unified Socialist), which was registered at the Election Commission on August 25. On August 29, the Speaker announced it was not necessary to take action on he UML’s recommendation as the dissidents had already formed a new party.
The UML has accused Speaker Sapkota of conspiring to split the party.
The winter session of the House commenced on December 14. The UML has obstructed all the meetings since, but the government has managed to get some ordinances through amid the opposition protest.
Two meetings of the House of Representatives were postponed—one scheduled for January 2 due to the eighth general convention of the Maoist Centre and the other scheduled for January 6 at the request of the UML.
The next meeting of the House of Representatives has been scheduled for January 12.
Deuba took over from Oli on July 13 last year, a day after the Supreme Court ordered the Congress president’s appointment as prime minister. Oli ever since has mocked the Deuba government as “a government formed by court order,” to assert that it lacks the people’s mandate.
The Deuba-Oli meeting lasted for about an hour. Neither side has made any official statement on the meeting and the discussions between the two leaders.
“It went well,” Oli said after the meeting in a brief comment to the media.