UML’s continued backing keeps Koshi coalition government afloatWe prioritise stability over other considerations, says UML chief whip
The plan of the ruling parties to oust the CPN-UML from the Koshi provincial government while keeping the government intact seems to work as long as the largest party in the province continues its backing to the Kedar Karki-led government even after quitting his Cabinet.
Forming the government for Karki, a dissident leader of the Nepali Congress, would not have been possible without UML’s support. On October 14, he became chief minister of Koshi, rallying the UML behind. When he took the oath the next day, Karki inducted two ministers without portfolio—Ram Bahadur Rana Magar of the UML and Shamser Rai from his faction of the Congress.
The UML on November 4 recalled Minister Magar after Karki inducted new ministers from the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the CPN (Unified Socialist). It, however, decided not to withdraw the support, arguing that it doesn’t want to push the province towards midterm elections.
“The province will be pushed into a snap poll if we withdraw the support. As a responsible political party, we decided not to make a move that would push the province into another election,” said Rewati Raman Bhandari, the UML chief whip in the provincial assembly.
Karki was appointed chief minister as per Article 168(5) of the constitution after laying his claim to lead a new government by producing the signatures of 47 lawmakers, a simple majority in the 93-member provincial assembly, before the province head. Karki will have to go for a floor test again if the UML opts out, as per the constitution.
Article 188 (2) of the statute says in case the political party which the chief minister represents is divided or a political party in coalition provincial government withdraws its support, the chief minister shall table a resolution in the Provincial Assembly for a vote of confidence within 30 days.
As 168 (5) is the last constitutional resort for forming a government, the current government failing to win the vote of trust means there will be no other option left for government formation.
As per Article 168 (7) of the constitution, if the chief minister appointed as per Article 168 (5) fails to secure the confidence of the assembly, the chief of the province, on the recommendation of the chief minister, will dissolve the provincial assembly and fix a date for an election to be held sometime in the next six months.
Opposing the party’s decision to support Indra Bahadur Angbo of the CPN (Maoist Centre) in the chief ministerial race, eight provincial assembly members from the Congress in the country’s eastern province, had decided to form a government led by Karki, with UML’s support.
While 21 members from the party supported Angbo as per the decision of the Congress top brass, eight close to dissident Congress leader Shekhar Koirala refused to oblige. Karki became chief minister with support from 39 lawmakers from the UML and eight from the dissident group of Congress in the 93-strong provincial assembly.
With 40 seats, the UML is the largest party in the assembly. The Congress has 29 seats, the Maoist Centre 12, the RPP six, Unified Socialist four, and the Janata Samajbadi Party has one seat.
After the UML’s decision to continue its support to the government, Karki is set to complete Cabinet expansion by inducting ministers from the ruling parties. In the 10-member Cabinet, four including the chief minister will be from the Congress, three ministers will be from the Unified Socialist and the Janata Samajbadi Party. Currently, the three parties have one minister each while the Janata Samajbadi Party is not willing to join now.
Karki will be adding two ministers each from his party and the Maoist Centre once the festive season is over. “We have agreed to give a full shape to the Cabinet immediately after Chhat,” said Rai, a minister in the Karki government. Chhat festival falls on November 19.