Prime Minister Dahal proves his majority—and how!Of the 270 lawmakers present, 268 voted in favour of Dahal, while two voted against the prime minister.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal got a vote of confidence on Tuesday receiving 268 votes in the 275-member House of Representatives.
Only two lawmakers—Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party’s Prem Suwal and Rastriya Janamorcha’s Chitra Bahadur KC—voted against the motion, while three Nepali Congress lawmakers—Kishor Singh Rathore, Ambika Basnet and Manorama Sherchan—were absent.
“As the vote he received is the majority of the total number of lawmakers, I hereby declare that the proposal for the confidence motion of the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been approved by the majority,” Pashupati Shumshere Rana said following the vote.
Rana, who has been chairing the House that started from Monday as the oldest lawmaker, at 81, did not vote, while Congress lawmaker Tek Bahadur Gurung was suspended.
Dahal needed only 138 votes for a majority in the 275-member parliament. None of the 270 lawmakers present in the House on Tuesday remained neutral or cast a ‘no’ vote.
With the Nepali Congress, the largest party in Parliament with 89 seats, deciding to vote for Dahal, the new government will have no opposition to speak of. There are differing views on whether the parties voting in favour of the confidence motion can remain in the opposition. Though all the parties supported the government, some including the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Unified Socialist), and the Nagarik Unmukti Party said they would remain in the opposition.
Asking the parties to support him, Prime Minister Dahal said that there was no alternative to a national consensus on issues of nationality, national security, and foreign relations, adding that an agreement is also necessary to take the remaining works of the peace process to a logical conclusion.
The Congress work execution committee meeting on Tuesday morning decided to support the Dahal-led government “to safeguard the constitution”.
“We are seriously concerned over the statement of the UML chair and a leader of the coalition during yesterday’s [January 9] first meeting of the House. He again said that the House could be dissolved,” said Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba in Parliament.
“Yesterday, we, including the existing prime minister, together safeguarded the constitution. Today, we again have the challenge of safeguarding the constitution as one of the major coalition leaders has challenged the constitutional system. It is also a testing time for the prime minister.”
But CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli, Dahal’s partner in the ruling coalition, expressed his doubts over the Congress’ support, saying that if it was expecting something in return for its vote, it would get nothing.
“If Congress hopes to catch a fish by casting the net of a vote for the government, it will be disappointed,” Oli said.
However, Prime Minister Dahal tried to answer Oli, saying that he had not sought out the Congress for ulterior reasons. “The Congress supported me this time just like I, as the main opposition leader, supported the then Sushil Koirala-led government,” Dahal said.
As the leader of the main opposition Dahal had given his party’s support to the then prime minister, Koirala, who had formed the government with UML’s backing in 2014.
“Today I feel I got justice,” said Prime Minister Dahal. “With most of the parties supporting me, I feel both the Maoist movement and I have been justified.”
Addressing the Parliament, the prime minister, who was caught in the debate about whether the House dissolution was right or wrong after Oli tried to plead that the dissolution was not a regressive move, said that issue was not the agenda of the ruling coalition.
He, however, said the coalition was against untimely House dissolution.
Dahal got overwhelming support, but all the parties supporting him have their own conditions.
Responding to Nagarik Unmukti Party leader Ranjita Shrestha’s concern, Dahal said that although it was going to be difficult, political prisoners including Resham will be released via due process. Shrestha had said her party wouldn’t be joining the government unless all their political prisoners were released.
“The issue of Resham Chaudhari is complicated but I assure you that innocents including Resham will be released,” Dahal said.
Speaking in Parliament, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Rajendra Lingden thanked the prime minister for giving a national holiday on Prithvi Jayanti, which was one of his party’s major demands.
Among the 12 parties in Parliament, CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Dahal, who was appointed prime minister with the support of 169 lawmakers including the second-largest party, got the support of all except Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha, which have one seat each.
Dahal was appointed prime minister on December 25 and took the oath of office and secrecy the next day.
Some lawmakers have expressed concerns over the lack of strong opposition in parliament saying that could make the government autocratic.
Speaking in Parliament, Rastriya Janamorcha lawmaker Chitra Bahadur KC expressed his concern over the new development, saying when all the parties support the government there wouldn’t be anyone to criticise the government’s misdeeds and that would be dangerous and inimical to the democratic process.
Dahal had claimed the prime minister’s position with the support of 169 members including the CPN-UML’s 78 members, the Maoist Centre’s 32, the Rastriya Swatantra Party’s 20, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party’s 14, the Janata Samajbadi Party’s 12, the Janamat Party’s six, the Nagarik Unmukti Party’s four [including one independent] and three independent lawmakers—Prabhu Shah, Kiran Kumar Sah and Amresh Kumar Singh.
As independent lawmaker Kiran Kumar Sah joined the UML, the second largest party has 79 seats, and Prabhu Sah has already formed a new outfit, the Aam Janata Party.
The next meeting of the House of Representatives scheduled for January 19 will elect a new Speaker. House chair Rana has instructed the general secretary of the Federal Parliament to begin the election process on January 17. As the two major parties in the ruling coalition agreed to share the prime minister and the Speaker, UML will have the Speaker for the first half of the five-year term as the Maoist Centre got the prime minister.