Oli replaces provincial chiefs of Gandaki and SudurpaschimThe move has been made to help save the position of Gandaki Province Chief Minister Gurung and to help the UML in Sudurpaschim Province which has a Maoist Centre chief minister.
CPN-UML chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s attempts to save his confidantes’ positions in provinces have continued, just as he is punishing those who could be obstacles in his efforts.
On Monday, the Oli Cabinet decided to remove provincial chiefs of Gandaki and Sudurpaschim, who were appointed from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) quota.
“The Cabinet today decided to replace provincial chiefs of Gandaki and Sudurpaschim,” said Minister for Agriculture Padma Aryal.
Amik Sherchan and Sharmila Kumari Panta from Gandaki and Sudurpaschim and have been replaced by Sita Poudel and Ganga Prasad Yadav respectively.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari quickly administered the oath of office and secrecy to both Poudel and Yadav at Sheetal Niwas Monday evening.
Oli’s public relations advisor Poudel is also the chairperson of the All Nepal Women’s Association— the party’s women wing—and Yadav was vice-chair and deputy speaker of the second Constituent Assembly from Rastriya Prajatantra Party but later he had joined UML.
Gandaki Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung from the UML faces a no-confidence motion and he may need the support of the provincial chief to save his chair.
Party insiders said the move was taken to ensure that the provincial chiefs help save Gurung and make it easier for the party to take over the government in Sudurpaschim.
In Lumbini, Provincial Chief Dharma Nath Yadav on Sunday quickly appointed Shankar Pokhrel as the chief minister and administered oath of office and secrecy even when Pokhrel had already lost the majority in the Provincial Assembly.
Earlier, on February 19 the government had sacked Province 2 Provincial Chief Tilak Pariyar, a Maoist leader, and replaced him with Rajesh Ahiraj, a supporter of Oli.
Of the seven provincial chiefs, three were allocated for the Maoist Centre. With two sacked today, all provincial chiefs are from among UML leaders.
Leaders from other political parties have said Oli’s move to change the provincial chief whenever he wished was against the spirit of the constitution.
“The move of the government to remove and appoint people in prestigious positions like provincial chief for political interests and tricks is wrong and against the spirit of the constitution,” tweeted Kamal Thapa, chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party. “This move is the symbol of arbitrariness and authoritarianism. It would be better to dissolve federalism.”
Constitutional experts have said that Prime Minister Oli has been focused on damaging the constitution and the recent developments in the provinces and the sudden change in the provincial chiefs is yet another example of this.
“While implementing the constitution one should follow its values, principles and the constitutional morality,” said Bhimarjuna Acharya, an advocate and expert on constitutional law. “If we see the recent developments—like in Lumbini where the chief minister was reappointed—Prime Minister Oli has been making a mockery of the constitution.”
Acharya said Oli has been changing the provincial chiefs without reason in a planned way to capture the state mechanisms so that his people could be saved when in crisis.
“All these show the strategy of Oli is to capture all mechanisms of the state,” Acharya told the Post. “It will cost dear to the country and the people.”