News Digest: Domestic Politics and Governance (May 13-19)

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Government Formation under Article 76.2

On May 13, the opposition parties—particularly the Nepali Congress and Maoist Centre—continued an effort to solicit the support of either Janata Samajwadi Party’s Thakur–Mahato faction or CPN–UML’s Khanal–Nepal faction to form an alternative government. However, an Oli–Nepal dialogue prevented mass resignation of the UML faction, whereas the Thakur–Mahato faction refused to join the government. With neither group complying with the NC–Maoist Centre’s goal, the possibility of government formation under Article 76.2 dried up—just hours before the president’s deadline of 9 pm on May 13. The president’s office quickly issued a statement saying it received no claim, from any party(ies), to form the government.

On the same account, JSP’s federal council chief Dr. Baburam Bhattarai later remarked that there is no alternative to finding Oli’s replacement. He also admitted to have met Oli and proposed forming a ‘national’ government under the leadership of someone who has not led the country yet.

President Vidyadevi Bhandari administers the oath of office and secrecy to newly appointed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli at a special ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, Shital Niwas on Friday. Photo: RSS

Oli Reappointed the PM under Article 76.3

After the opposition parties’ failure to form an alternative government, KP Sharma Oli was reappointed the prime minister, according to Article 76.3 of the Constitution. He will have to get a confidence in the parliament within 30 days of his appointment; a failure to do so will automatically strip him off the position and lead the country towards early election, if the final Article 76.5 is exhausted and no other leader gathers support to form a government.

The NC–Maoist Centre Alliance and Janata Samajwadi Party

Despite their failure to form an alternative government, the opposition parties—NC, CPN–MC, and JSP’s Yadav faction—decided to continue their alliance: a) to preserve the constitution and democracy, b) to challenge PM Oli’s monopoly and autocracy, and c) to stop PM Oli’s efforts to re-dissolve the parliament.

In a surprising turn of events, JSP’s presidents Mahant Thakur and Upendra Yadav issued a joint statement and clarified that the party will not join any government, unless under its own leadership. A sudden ‘unity’ in the party, which was on a verge of split only days ago, means PM Oli will not get confidence in the parliament, which will lead the country towards Article 76.5 of the constitution. If neither Oli nor NC–Maoist Centre accepts JSP’s leadership, thereby exhausting all constitutional provisions to form government, the country will then head towards an early election.

CPN–UML’s Internal Disputes

After a series of efforts from second-rank leaders, PM Oli finally agreed to take the party back to its pre-merger state of 16 May 2018—something that the Khanal–Nepal faction has long been pressing. The two sides agreed to assign the job to a 10-member taskforce with 5 leaders from each faction. The taskforce held its first meeting on May 18, 2021 and ‘appealed to the party’s rank and file not to do anything that could create mistrust and contradictions in the party.’

The ameliorated Oli–Nepal relation has added a twist to the National Assembly election, hurting the opposition NC–Maoist Centre alliance. The alliance had supported Madhav Nepal’s pick of Dr. Khimlal Devkota against Ram Bahadur Thapa, PM Oli’s candidate.

Nepali Congress

Opposition Nepali Congress published a list of its active members from 45 districts on its website. The party also shared that over 700,000 names from 74 districts have been entered in their software.

Governance and Corruption

Although the pre-budget session should have been completed by May 29 (Jestha 15) according to Rule 142(4) of House of Representatives Regulation, which states that the pre-budget discussion needs to be completed at least 15 days before national budget is tabled in Parliament, it is still unsure when the session will take place.

The cabinet has recommended ambassadors for 11 foreign countries. Out of these 11 recommendations, nine are political appointees under the political quota, and two are from the foreign service.

Writs have been filed in the supreme court which demand Prime Minister Oli to retake the oath of office and secrecy. During his oath on May 14, Oli skipped some words, which caused petitioners to say that the oath is thus invalid.

The Supreme Court has sent out an interlocutory interim order to not implement a decision against four Lumbini Provincial Assembly lawmakers. Janata Samajbadi Party had expelled them as they had joined the provincial government even though the party voted for a no-confidence motion.

Minister for Education, Science and Technology Krishna Gopal Shrestha, on May 14, presented a 20-point report highlighting what works have been done during his term. However, experts have said that he ignored the most pressing issues regarding the education sector during his presentation, including schools remaining closed during the pandemic, exams being uncertain etc.

The Supreme Court refused to issue an interim order for the oath of office and secrecy taken by Prime Minister KP Oli on May 14. Oli didn’t repeat all the words that the President read out during the oath. Hence, the court asked the OPMCM to create another response within 15 days.

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