April Analysis: Governance

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The Nepali Congress has sought the resignation of Prime Minister KP Oli, however, in order for that to happen, there are certain constitutional criteria.

Criteria through which Oli can be unseated

There are two ways Oli can be unseated. The first way is if Maoist Centre withdraws support it gave to the UML when Oli became the prime minister in February 2018.

If this happens, Oli will have to seek a vote of confidence, and if he cannot get the support of 136 members of the House, his government will fall.

Currently, the 275-member House has 270 occupied seats as two lawmakers each from Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajbadi Party were suspended and one UML lawmaker has died.

Here is a list of which parties currently have how many seats in Parliament:

UML: 120

Nepali Congress: 61

Maoist Centre: 53 (of which four defected to the UML)

Janata Samajbadi Party: 32

The second way in which Oli can be unseated is through a no-confidence motion. Senior party leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and former general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula have reportedly asked Deuba to register a no-confidence motion against Oli.

Intra-party politics

The Nepali Congress, the main opposition party seeking resignation of PM Oli during a Central Working Committee meeting, of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in order to take the lead to form a new government.

However, in order to do so, Congress has to join hands with Maoist Centre and the Janata Samajbadi Party,  the third and the fourth largest parties in Parliament respectively to offer an alternative to Oli’s government.

Now it depends on Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the Janata Samajbadi Party, as their support, or lack thereof, will determine the fate of Oli’s government.

Oli is reportedly courting the Janata Samajbadi Party for support. However, the party, with 32 seats, is divided on whether to support Oli or not.

Background: how did the Oli government form?

Oli was elected prime minister in February 2018 as the leader of the CPN-UML who won the largest number of seats (121) in a 275-member House in the 2017 elections with support from the Maoist Centre. The Maoist Centre, at the time, had won 53 seats.

Article 76(2) was used at the time which stated, “In cases where no party has a clear majority in the House of Representatives, the President shall appoint as prime minister a member of the House who can command a majority with the support of two or more parties in the House.”

Oli’s party commanded a majority (174 seats) in the House. Only 136 were required to form a government.

Hence, Oli’s government was formed under Article 76 (1): “The President shall appoint the leader of a Parliamentary Party that commands majority in the House of Representatives as the prime minister, and the Council of Ministers shall be constituted under his or her chairpersonship.”

Oli government, formed as per Article 76 (1), dissolved the house. However, this move was overturned by the Constitutional Bench on February 23, citing that Nepal’s constitution allows House dissolution only when all the options to form a government are exhausted. In Oli’s case, it was still possible to form alternative governments.

Why must Oli seek a vote of confidence?

Currently, prime minister Oli must seek a vote of confidence depending on two constitutional criteria:

Article 76 (4): prime minister appointed under clause (2) shall obtain a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives no later than 30 days after the date of such appointment

Article 100 (2): if the political party which the prime minister represents is divided or a political party in coalition government withdraws its support, the prime minister shall table a motion in the House for a vote of confidence within 30 days.

CPN-UML merger scrapped, vote of confidence deadline initiated

Three months after Oli became the prime minister, the UML and the Maoist Centre had merged to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

However, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) scrapped the merger, reviving CPN-UML and Maoist Centre to pre-merger state.

Oli’s 30 days to seek vote of confidence started from March 7 , hence, he must take a vote of confidence by April 6

However, the Oli government claims that since Maoist Centre has not withdrawn its support, there is no need to seek a vote of confidence, seeking a chance to prove that the House is irrelevant.

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