Asta Laxmi Shakya resigns as chief minister of Bagmati ProvinceRajendra Pandey of CPN (Unified Socialist) set to succeed Shakya. Rajendra Rai tipped to lead Province 1.
Nepal’s first female chief minister Asta Laxmi Shakya resigned on Wednesday just ahead of a no-confidence vote against her government in the Bagmati provincial assembly. She was elected from the CPN-UML. With her exit, the only remaining provincial government the UML is leading now is in Province 1, which is also likely to get a new chief minister after November 1.
Shakya handed in her papers to the provincial chief Yadav Chandra Sharma on Wednesday. Earlier, she had announced her resignation in her address to the provincial assembly.
With the split in the UML after Madhav Kumar Nepal formed the CPN (Unified Socialist), Shakya fell into minority status as 13 of the UML’s 56 members in the assembly defected to the CPN (Unified Socialist). Now the UML has just 43 members in the 109-member Provincial Assembly. A party wishing to form a new government will need the support of at least 55 assembly members.
“For the development of the province we need to work in close coordination among the parties,” Shakya said while addressing the provincial assembly.
Following Shakya’s resignation, provincial chief Sharma asked parties to form a new government as per Article 168(2) of the constitution. The provincial chief has given parties until 3 pm Thursday to lay claim to the post of chief minister.
Following Shakya’s resignation, leader of the CPN (Unified Socialist) Rajendra Pandey has laid claim to the post with the signatures of 59 members—Maoist Centre’s-23, Nepali Congress’ 22, Unified Socialist’s 13 and Janata Samajbadi’s 1.
With Shakya’s exit, Bhim Acharya of Province 1 is the only remaining leader of CPN-UML in the provincial governments. And he was preparing to go for a floor test on Sunday, a mandatory requirement after the split in his party, the UML.
Media reports speculated that Acharya was trying to lure some members of the opposition alliance into supporting him with promises of ministerial portfolios but Nepali Congress leaders said they asked for the postponement of Sunday’s assembly meeting as Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba was visiting the province on the same day.
“There were media reports about Chief Minister Acharya trying to lure our members but there is no way he can garner a majority,” said Rajiv Koirala, leader of the Nepali Congress parliamentary party in the province. “A new government will be formed after the November 1 meeting of the Provincial Assembly.”
According to leaders of the province, Nepali Congress members close to the party’s dissident leaders Shekhar Koirala and Ram Chandra Poudel had hinted that Chief Minister Acharya was trying to lure Nepali Congress assembly members into supporting him amid rumours that Congress President Deuba was preparing to appoint only the leaders from his camp as ministers in a soon-to-be-formed new government of the ruling alliance.
Leader of the CPN (Unified Socialist) Rajendra Rai said Chief Minister Acharya could also resign just like the Bagmati chief minister Shakya before the next meeting of the Provincial Assembly scheduled for November 1. “Then we will form a new government,” said Rai, who is tipped to be the new chief minister of Province 1.
In the Bagmati Province, Shakya was appointed chief minister on August 18 as the leader of the single largest party. Now the alliance of five parties—Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Centre), CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Janamorcha—has decided to support CPN (Unified Socialist) candidate Rajendra Pandey for Bagmati chief minister.
“As per the agreement of our alliance I will take the oath of office and secrecy [of Chief Minister] on Thursday afternoon,” said Pandey. “Probably four ministers—one each from the four parties— will take oath as ministers on Thursday.”
Though Nepali Congress leaders in Bagmati have been claiming that they have forged an agreement with the CPN (Unified Socialist) to rule the province by turns, leaders of CPN (Unified Socialist) denied having reached such agreement.
Shakya and Acharya of Province 1, who were close to Madhav Nepal decided to remain in the CPN-UML after UML chief KP Sharma Oli made them chief ministers. Oli had earlier used his influence to deprive the two of chief ministership and instead appointed his close aides Dormani Poudel and Sherdhan Rai as chief ministers.