Three parties meet today for talks on new government formationIf the negotiations between Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Centre) and Janata Samajbadi Party are positive, further discussions will be held on the way forward to unseat Oli, Congress leaders say.
Soon after the Supreme Court on February 23 overturned Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives, the main opposition Nepali Congress, Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Centre), and Janata Samajbadi Party have been in formal and informal talks to unseat Oli.
But as the way forward has been an issue of contention, concrete talks between the three parties are yet to take place.
Technically, the CPN-UML government still has the support of the Maoist Centre. In February 2018, the Maoist Centre had lent its support to the UML to form the government. The two parties subsequently merged in May 2018 to form Nepal Communist Party (NCP). But the Supreme Court on March 7 invalidated their merger, once again reviving the UML and the Maoist Centre.
The Maoist Centre, despite its bad blood with Prime Minister Oli, has not yet withdrawn its support to the government.
Leaders of the Maoist Centre say that the party is ready to withdraw its support in case a no-confidence motion is filed against the government at the same time.
“We are ready to withdraw support from the government,” Standing Committee member of the Maoist Centre Sunil Poudel said. “Withdrawing the support to the Oli government and registering a no-confidence motion will go on hand in hand.”
Meanwhile, after much deliberations within the party, the Nepali Congress on April 2 decided to take the lead in unseating Oli and forming a coalition government under the leadership of party President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
A week after that decision, the three parties that need to come together to form the coalition are finally scheduled to meet on Friday to chart the way forward.
As a preparatory step towards Friday’s meeting Maoist Centre spokesman Narayan Kaji Shrestha met Deuba on Thursday and urged him to expedite the government formation talks.
“I met with Deuba and we have agreed to call a meeting between three parties on Friday at Deuba’s residence,” said Shrestha. “This is the first joint meeting between three opposition parties in order to form a new government as it has already been one and half months [since the House was reinstated].”
So far, despite leading the main opposition, Deuba has been reluctant to take the lead in unseating Oli pointing out that the Maoist Centre is yet to withdraw its support to the government.
The Maoist Centre, however, insists that it is ready to unseat Oli.
“We are very clear that this government should be removed but still the Janata Samajbadi Party is in confusion,” said Poudel.
Without the 32 votes of the Samajbadi Party in the House of Representatives (two of its lawmakers are suspended), Oli cannot be unseated.
Mahantha Thakur, the chair of the Janata Samajbadi Party, is currently in the spotlight, as he and Rajendra Mahato, have been negotiating with Oli on a power-sharing deal. The party’s other chair Upendra Yadav and chair of the party’s federal council Baburam Bhattarai, on the other hand, are firmly against the continuation of the Oli government.
At Friday’s meeting, Deuba is planning to invite Thakur and Mahato, who are not so positive about supporting Deuba’s bid to lead the government, as well as Yadav and Bhattarai, according to a Nepali Congress leader who did not want to be named.
“During the meeting, Deuba will seek a final answer from the Maoist Centre and the Samajbadi Party,” a leader close to Deuba told the Post on condition of anonymity. “He will ask when the Maoist Centre will withdraw its support to the Oli government and if the Samajbadi Party will be united in supporting him and signing the no-confidence motion.”
Before Friday’s meeting between the three parties, the Maoist Centre is scheduled to meet Samajbadi Party leaders to make a common position, according to spokesman Shrestha.
Earlier this week, Ram Chandra Poudel, senior leader of Nepali Congress, who has been vocal on the need to unseat Oli, too met Samajbadi Party leader Thakur to convince it to side with Nepali Congress.
“Since the Maoist Centre decided to take action against four ministers in Oli’s Cabinet, we are convinced about the Maoist Centre and it has also given word that it will withdraw its support to the Oli government,” another Nepali Congress leader said on condition of anonymity. “The only problem we are facing is with Samajbadi Party.”
Energy Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Industry Minister Lekhraj Bhatta, Urban Development Minister Prabhu Sah and Labour Minister Gauri Shankar Chaudhary were stripped of their lawmaker positions on Thursday after they abandoned the Maoist Centre and joined Oli’s UML.
Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal had written to Parliament on Tuesday asking it to strip them of their lawmaker status.
“The ball is in Samajbadi Party’s court to unseat Oli,” said Nepali Congress spokesman Bishwo Prakash Sharma.
But the situation will be clearer on the formation of another government following Friday’s meeting.
“This is the first joint meeting,” said Sharma. “If talks between three parties move in a positive direction, then we will enter discussions on how and when the no-confidence motion should be registered and how to move ahead in power sharing deal.”