There’s House, there are political parties, but Nepal’s politics is deadlockedWhile Congress has been partly blamed for not making any move, the Maoist Centre’s indecision over support to Oli is the major reason the political process is stalled.
The country’s politics is deadlocked.
Technically the incumbent KP Sharma Oli government leads a majority government as the CPN (Maoist Centre) hasn’t withdrawn its support. However, politically, the Maoist Centre doesn’t support the government. It has already recalled its ministers from the Oli Cabinet and has sought clarification from those who have refused to resign.
Lila Mani Pokharel, a Standing Committee member of the party, says they will take action against the ministers from the next meeting of the Central Committee which will be held “soon”.
Pokharel, however, was not able to say anything about withdrawing support to the Oli government because the party is “waiting for a right time”.
“There is no doubt that we are against the constitution of the Oli government,” Pokharel told the Post. “However, we are looking for an appropriate time to withdraw support to the Oli government.”
Oli has refused to resign despite the Supreme Court overturning his December 20 move of dissolving the House. Politics, however, became complicated after the Supreme Court on March 7 scrapped the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), which was formed in May 2018 after the merger between Oli’s UML and Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s Maoist Centre.
The two cmmunist parties had contested the 2017 elections under a “left alliance”, in which the UML had won 121 seats and the Maoist Centre 53.
Months before the merger, the Maoist Centre had extended support to the UML to form the Oli-led majority government.
The withdrawal of support by the Maoist Centre will turn Oli’s government into a minority.
The UML currently has 120 members in the lower house after one lawmaker died.
If the Maoist Centre withdraws support, Oli will be 16 seats short of the magic number of 136.
Hence, he has been trying to rope in the Janata Samajbadi Party which currently has 32 seats in Parliament.
After the court revived the UML and the Maoist Centre, one way the Oli government could have been unseated was if the Nepali Congress, which currently has 61 seats, the Maoist Centre (currently 49 seats as four members have defected to Oli) and the Janata Samajbadi Party had forged an alliance.
But the Congress has decided to stay idle.
With the Congress not making any move, Oli has been cultivating the Janata Samajbadi Party.
Pokharel said the Maoists have not withdrawn the support as they first want to form an understanding with other parties for the formation of the alternative government.
According to Pokharel, Oli is still looking for opportunities to dissolve Parliament.
Political observers, however, say the Maoist Centre’s claim does not make sense, as it can continue talks for a coalition government even after withdrawing support to Oli.
“While Oli is responsible for inviting the present political mess, it is the Maoist Centre which is responsible for the continuing deadlock,” said Shreekrishna Aniruddh Gautam, a columnist with the Post’s sister paper Kantipur. “The party should withdraw its support to Oli and let the political course move ahead.”
Oli’s House dissolution move, which set in motion a chain of events leading to the current political crisis, however, had its root in the infighting in his then Nepal Communist Party (NCP) which he and Dahal chaired.
It had become apparent that Dahal wanted to unseat Oli because he was not following the party system and procedures and had been running both the party and the government unilaterally. Dahal had even managed to secure the backing of senior UML leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal. Insiders say the plan was to unseat Oli and install Dahal as the prime minister.
The court decision to overturn Oli’s House dissolution hence brought cheers for Dahal and Nepal, who led a sizable faction in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). But the court decision to revive the UML and the Maoist Centre, in essence, also caused a split in the Dahal-Nepal faction.
Now that Dahal was at the forefront to demand Oli’s resignation on moral grounds after the court overturned his House dissolution decision, it’s incumbent upon his Maoist Centre also to withdraw support after his party was revived, according to analysts.
“How long will the Maoist Centre continue its support to Oli?” said Guatam. “There are no immediate signs that the Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajbadi Party will join hands with the Maoist Centre to form a coalition to unseat Oli.”
Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has already made his position clear that his party will neither join the government nor file a no-confidence motion against the incumbent government.
Hari Roka, a political economist who closely follows the left politics, said it is immoral on the part of the Maoist Centre to continue its support to the government which Dahal, the chair of the party, has accused of working at the behest of foreign forces.
Earlier in the post-December 20 days, Dahal, when he had the backing of Nepal and Khanal, opposed Oli’s House dissolution, saying it was an unconstitutional and undemocratic move. He was later vindicated after the court also said the House dissolution decision was unconstitutional.
But today Dahal’s Maoist Centre fears that Oli might dissolve the House again because it is afraid of going to the polls, unlike the Nepali Congress which will have no qualms over early polls.
When Dahal had decided to join hands with Oli back in October 2017, in the lead-up to the polls, realisation had dawned upon him that his party was going to face a tough time.
In the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections, Dahal’s party had emerged as the single largest force. But in the 2013 Assembly elections, the Maoists were reduced to the third party.
An early poll could mean a disaster for the Maoist Centre, while Oli is pressing for it and the Nepali Congress is not averse to the idea because it believes it can make a comeback from an election which will be held with two biggest communist forces divided.
The Janata Samajbadi Party, on the other hand, does not have anything to lose. It can either side with Oli or even with the Nepali Congress and the Maoist Centre if the latter two seek to forge an alliance to unseat Oli.
Analysts say when the Congress party says it is in no hurry to lead the government, it is not entirely wrong, as it was given the mandate in the 2017 elections to sit in the opposition.
The Samajbadi Party, as the fourth largest force, has all the right to say it will wait and watch and make a move in such a way that ensures political gains for it.
The indecision of the Maoist Centre is an outcome of its lack of confidence to go for snap polls.
“Can the Maoist Centre alone stop early elections if all other parties agree to it?” Roka asked. “It seems Oli had Plan B and even C when he dissolved the House. However, the Maoist Centre lacked even Plan B,” he said.