To Prime Minister Oli’s relief, Deuba rules out no-confidence motionWith Janata Samajbadi Party not wholly supportive of such a motion, the numbers would not be enough to oust Oli. A faction of the party is ready to join the government.
Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has said his party will not register a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
“We do not have the numbers,” Deuba told journalists at his residence in Budhanilkantha on Friday, explaining the reasons why the main opposition did not register a no-confidence motion against Oli earlier even though the party demanded his resignation after the Supreme Court overturned his decision to dissolve the House.
Though the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) were ready to register a no-confidence motion against the Oli government, Janata Samajbadi Party has been divided over the issue.
While a Janata Samajbadi Party faction led by its chair Mahantha Thakur and senior leader Rajendra Mahato is hoping for warmer relations with the government, another faction led by another chair Upendra Yadav and chair of the party’s federal council Baburam Bhattarai has been calling for an ouster of Prime Minister Oli’s government.
“Why should we register a no-confidence motion when we do not have the numbers to pass it?” said Deuba. “If a no-confidence motion fails, then the whole game will be over.”
If a no-confidence motion fails, another one cannot be registered for a year according to Article 100 (4) of the constitution.
Earlier this week, an office bearers’ meeting of the Janata Samajbadi Party was divided over whether to support a no-confidence motion, which they expected the Nepali Congress would bring.
Deuba also claimed that Janata Samajbadi Party itself is not yet ready to support a no-confidence motion.
“But I am in touch with them,” he added.
However, 18 of the 32 sitting lawmakers of the Janata Samajbadi Party have pledged to support a no-confidence motion and their signatures have reportedly been handed over to Deuba.
“We have already handed over signatures of 18 lawmakes of Janata Samajbadi Party to Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba to oust Oli,” said Janata Samajbadi Party leader Navaraj Subedi. “More lawmakers will join us soon.”
Of the 275 members in the House of Representatives, Oli’s UML has 121 seats, Nepali Congress 63, the Maoist Centre 53, four of which have recently been suspended, the Samajbadi Party 34 and four seats belong to smaller parties.
Therefore support of just 18 lawmakers of the Janata Samajbadi Party would not be enough to unseat the Oli government.
Thakur, on the other hand, told the Post that his party is ready to join the government if its demands for withdrawal of cases against its cadres and leaders, publicising of the findings of the Lal Commission on the 2015-16 Tarai uprising, amendment to the Citizenship Act and the constitution are met.
“We have not discussed joining the government yet but it’s true that we may join the government after all the cases against our leaders and cadres are withdrawn,” said Thakur.
The Nepali Congress is well-aware of this division within the Samajbadi Party.
Speaking to the Post this week, Nepali Congress Vice-President Bimalendra Nidhi had ruled out any possibility of his party tabling a no-confidence motion.
“We will need over 135 votes to unseat Oli and support of more than two political parties to form a government but if the Janata Samajbadi Party is not ready then, we would not have adequate numbers to form government,” Nidhi said.
Some leaders within the Nepali Congress have been claiming that the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the ruling party would cross the floor and vote in favour of a no-confidence motion but Nidhi thinks that in itself would not be enough.
“We have heard some people saying that the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction will support our bid. But we can't bring a no-confidence motion on the basis of hearsay. We need verified signatures and no one has guaranteed that to us yet,” said Nidhi.
Fearing that 27 members of the House of Representatives belonging to the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction could vote against him, Oli could preemptively remove them from the party and parliament.
“In that situation, Prime Minister Oli as party chair and Parliamentary Party leader, will make no delay to remove them from the party,” said a member of the UML Central Committee requesting anonymity. “Oli has already decided to take action against 27 lawmakers who could cross the floor.”
Although action has not been taken against them, they could lose even their lawmaker seats if he does. And that would lead to another game of numbers as a majority of the existing members of the House of Representatives must support a government.
“Number game may begin after we take action against unruly lawmakers but we won’t spare anyone who goes against the party,” said Sher Bahadur Tamang, secretary at the central party office of UML. “However action has not been taken against them yet.”
(Tika R Pradhan contributed reporting.)