PM post not a done deal for KP Oli yetWhat may have looked like a sure shot for CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli to become the new prime minister after the promulgation of the constitution two weeks ago has increasingly become a competitive race with two other contenders from the Nepali Congress expressing their interest.
What may have looked like a sure shot for CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli to become the new prime minister after the promulgation of the constitution two weeks ago has increasingly become a competitive race with two other contenders from the Nepali Congress expressing their interest.
With supporters of both Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, who is the incumbent PM, and senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba saying they could throw their hats in the ring, the country is headed for a majoritarian government.
During an NC office bearers’ meeting on Sunday, Koirala voiced his desire to continue as the PM and sought help from the leaders. While, his rival in the party and former PM Deuba is also expected to stake his claim to prime minstership once the deadline for electing a consensus prime minister expires this week.
“Deuba will contest if the parties decide to go for a majority government,” said Prakash Sharan Mahat, an aide to Deuba. With the UML announcing Oli’s candidacy on Sunday, the coalition partners are headed for an acrimonious split. UML leaders accuse the NC of reneging on the “gentlemen’s agreement” to hand over the reins to the former after the promulgation of the constitution.
Prime Minister Koirala faces a difficult choice: keeping his word and managing dynamics within the NC. According to a Congress leader, Koirala admitted during Sunday’s meeting that he had repeatedly assured Oli of support in his PM bid next. “It was not written but a verbal commitment,” he told the meeting. But Koirala was quick to mention that the international community favoured him and that the political landscape had changed against Oli, according to NC leaders.
“As you know, we have to conduct the local polls and subsequently the general election,” said Koirala, soliciting advice from party officials on his next move.
Koirala appears confident that he would get the support of the Maoists, some Madhes-based parties, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and some fringe parties for him to form a majority government.
But senior NC leaders including General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Joint General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka were critical of Koirala trying to renege on his commitment, according to leaders who attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, UML leaders have said their first priority would be to form a consensus government uniting all the major parties under Oli.
“Our utmost priority is to form a national consensus government as per informal agreements among the parties in the past,” said UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali. “We will try to prove our majority in Parliament even if the Congress claims government leadership in violation of its past commitments.”
UML leaders hope the UCPN (Maoist), the RPP, RPP-Nepal, the Bijay Kumar Gachhadar-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik and fringe Left parties will support their candidate.
“The Maoist party is firm on supporting us and we hope we can secure the required votes to elect Chairman Oli as the new PM,” said Gyawali. The UML will sit on the opposition bench if it fails to form a government in its leadership. The UCPN (Maoist) holds the key to a majoritarian government. So far party leaders have said they remain open to supporting either of the two big parties.
“We are ready to join the government but we have not claimed its leadership,” said Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
‘New PM by Oct 11’
Speaker Subas Nembang said on Sunday that the country would get a new prime minister by October 11 either through consensus or by a majority process.
Speaking to journalists in Singha Durbar on Sunday, Nembang said a government through consensus was a better option, but a new PM would be elected by October 11 even if the parties push through a majority process.
The time given by President Ram Baran Yadav to form a consensus government expires on October 9. If no agreement is reached on a consensus government within the deadline, the CA Secretariat will hold a vote to elect the executive chief by next Sunday.
“A new PM will be elected on the same day, barring a situation where numerous candidates stake their claim to the post,” said Nembang. He does not see the prospect of too many nominations for prime ministership. A candidate has to secure 298 votes out of the 598 members of Parliament to be elected the PM.