Oli makes jibes at Congress, decries foreign interventionUML chairman says the largest party was manoeuvring to beat Prime Minister Dahal in the Tuesday confidence vote.
Former prime minister and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli on Saturday took a jibe at the Nepali Congress while also indirectly criticising India.
Without naming India, Oli said that neighbouring countries are showing unnecessary interest in government formation in Nepal and urged them not to intervene in the country’s internal affairs.
As the political parties were preparing to elect the new prime minister, according to one UML leader, India, and the United States to some extent, wanted to see the continuation of the Sher Bahadur Deuba government, which did not happen. Oli’s latest comment is viewed in this connection.
In a dramatic move, after the Congress refused to let Pushpa Kamal Dahal lead the government in the first phase, the UML had abruptly come forward to support Dahal’s bid. Dahal claimed that Deuba had failed to honour his word to allow the Maoist chairman to lead the government in the first half of the five-year term. With the backing of the UML and other smaller parties, Dahal became the prime minister on December 25.
Addressing an orientation programme for newly-elected UML lawmakers on Saturday, Oli criticised the Congress leadership.
“Formation of the government was an important step towards protecting Nepali sovereignty,” said Oli. “Some acts were carried out in breach of diplomatic norms during the government formation process.”
UML leaders said that Oli felt it necessary to expose such manoeuvrings, as he did on Saturday.
“We formed the government by fending off external intervention. We are a sovereign nation. The Nepali people are happy to have formed their own government,” said a UML leader, wanting not to be named.
This is not the first time that Oli has lashed out at India. He kicked off the campaign for November 20 elections from the far-western corner of Darchula, the site of an old boundary dispute between Nepal and India.
Back in May 2020, the Oli government issued a new map incorporating Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh, which India had claimed as its own in the map it made public towards the end of 2019.
“Our friends are not coming through the front door. They are trying to come through the backdoor to change the government here, which is not possible,” Oli reportedly told his party’s MPs on Saturday. “It is not expected of a neighbour. We will lead our country in our own style and I urge [foreigners] not to intervene in our domestic affairs,” said Oli.
Relations between Nepal and India dipped to a historic low after the map row. There were some rounds of meetings between Nepal and India at the foreign minister and foreign secretary levels but India refused to take up the matter in bilateral forums. During his India visit, then-prime minister Deuba also raised the issue with his Indian counterpart but there has been no momentum in resolving the boundary dispute, an irritant in bilateral ties for decades.
“We do not expect such activities from our neighbours and friends,” said Oli. “Whatever assistance you can extend to us is welcome, but you should stop intervening in our internal affairs… Let such manoeuvrings stop and let’s work and act as friends. Let’s work together as per the principle of equal sovereignty.”
Stressing the Nepali policy of non-interference in others’ internal affairs, Oli said Kathmandu expects similar treatment from others. “I urge the neighbours to work with our government, no matter who gets to power.”
Oli’s statement comes ahead of the confidence vote scheduled by Prime Minister Dahal for January 10. Some media reports suggest that the Congress is trying to make Dahal fail the floor test, by wooing some coalition partners out of his fold.
Oli also criticised the role of Congress as it takes the opposition bench. The Congress indulged in petty games to prevent Dahal from winning the confidence of the House, he said. “The Nepali Congress is offering the post of prime minister to different political parties.”
There have been reports of the Congress reaching out to Rastriya Swatantra Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party with the offer of prime minister position if they agree to uninstall the Dahal government. The RSP is in government while the RPP is preparing to join the Dahal-led Cabinet. Some RPP leaders back the claim.
To Oli’s claim that “enormous effort” was being made to prevent the government from taking shape, Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa on Saturday said his party has not offered the prime-ministership to any party and it would take up the opposition role.
“We are not in the game of government formation,” said Thapa. “Our party president is meeting some leaders as per their request but he has not offered anyone the post of prime minister.”
Referring to Deuba’s statement that his party would stage a comeback, Oli said the largest force in the House was trying to topple the Dahal administration on January 10.
“They are indulging in petty games. They call on the chairman of one political party and offer him the post of prime minister. But if this government is toppled, the Congress will try to lead the government as the largest party with Deuba as the prime minister,” said Oli.
The Dahal government was formed as per Article 76 (2) of the constitution. If Dahal fails the floor test, a new government would be formed as per Article 76 (3), whereby the largest party in the House claims the government.
“We are sure the Nepali Congress will oppose and protest against this government for another five years,” said Oli.
“The Congress will try to entrap the government. Even when the Congress had won just 23 seats [in the House directly], it had used different power centres to install its prime minister. The Nepali Congress hopes to topple this government by driving a wedge between the ruling parties.”