October Analysis: Federal Affairs

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The country has been facing political turmoil for the last year and it reached extremes in dissatisfaction when former Prime Minister (PM) KP Oli unconstitutionally dissolved the federal parliament two times within six months, the ripples of which is still affecting federal and provincial government functioning. Province 1 and Bagmati are still in political unrest, and the contest between political parties for power-sharing is ongoing. Delays in the formation of cabinets in both the federal government and provinces, especially in Province 1 and Bagmati are impacting the day-to-day functioning of the administration.

Timeline of major events

DateEvents
4 October  The Provincial Public Service Commission of Province 2 submitted a report to the Provincial Chief Hari Shankar Mishra.
4 October  Province 2 Chief Minister (CM) Lalbabu Raut won the vote of confidence in the Provincial Assembly.
6 October  The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning, Lumbini Province submitted a budget to the provincial assembly.
6 October  The cabinet meeting of Province 2 appointed Shailendra Shah as spokesperson of the provincial government.
8 OctoberPM Sher Bahadur Deuba expanded his cabinet.
10 October  Lumbini Chief Minister (CM) Kul Prasad KC administration expanded a 17 members of his cabinet.
19 October  Lumbini CM Kul Prasad KC inaugurated Chief Minister Office in Deukhuri of Dang.
24 October  Province Assembly of Province1 adjourned the vote of confidence for 8 days.
27 OctoberBagmati Province CM Asta Laxmi Shakya resigned from the post.
28 OctoberParliamentary party leader of the CPN-Unified Socialist, Rajendra Pandey was appointed the CM of Bagmati Province.

Delay in collation cabinet expansion both in center and province

Three months after assuming office, PM Sher Bahadur Deuba on October 8 finally expanded his cabinet by introducing 17 new ministers and two state ministers from the five-party ruling alliance. A support of the five-party alliances to Deuba was appointed as the PM on July 13. There were only six members in the cabinet including PM, before a full-shape was given. Now it has reached 25, including 22 ministers and three ministers of state in the Deuba cabinet.

Nonetheless, this is the first time in the history of Nepali politics, the PM has not been able to expand the cabinet for such a long period. The delay in cabinet expansion has had several impacts on the day-to-day functioning of the administration.

It was not only the central government that took a long time in the cabinet expansion, Chief Minister of Lumbini Province, Kul Prasad KC’s administration took two months in the cabinet expansion. CM KC on October 10 formed a 17-member cabinet. However, he was appointed as CM on August 12. During the formation of cabinet, CM KC added seven new ministers and three state ministers.The power-sharing of central government affected the provincial government which in turn delayed the cabinet expansion both in the central and provincial.

The vote of confidence in the provincial government

Chief Minister of Province 2 Lalbabu Raut on October 6 won the vote of confidence in the Provincial Assembly. CM Raut sought the vote of confidence as per the constitutional provision after the split of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal (JSP-N). Out of 104-members in the Provincial Assembly, CM Raut received 77 votes whilst as many as 23 votes against him, and four lawmakers remained absent. CM Raut got support from the JSP-N, Nepali Congress, and CPN-Unified Socialist.

Similarly, Province 1 and Bagmati Province also required a vote of confidence as per the constitution provision following the split of the ruling party. CPN-UML Vice-chair Asta Laxmi Shakya in Bagmati and Bhim Acharya in Province 1 were appointed as CMs on August 18 and 26 respectively. Both CMs have been suffering into the minority when the ruling party split into two parties.

Newly appointed Bagmati Chief Yadav Chandra Sharma. Photo: RSS

On October 27, Bagmati CM Shakya submitted her resignation to Provincial Chief Yadav Chandra Sharma. CM Shakya confirmed that she did not win the vote of confidence from the Provincial Assembly and she decided to resign. Meanwhile, the parliamentary party leader of the CPN-US, Rajendra Pandey was appointed on October 28 as CM of Bagmati Province. Recently, the new CM Pandey formed a four-member cabinet. And as per the constitutional provision, CM Pandey also needs to seek the vote of confidence within 1 month of his appointment. As coalition government, CM Pandey has a good chance of winning the vote of confidence.

Similarly, despite being a minority, Province 1 Chief Minister Bhim Acharya on October 24 was ready to take the vote of confidence in the Provincial Assembly. The Provincial Assembly secretariat adjourned the Provincial Assembly meeting for October 31 after the main opposition Nepali Congress demanded to postpone after signaling to cross the floor. While the ruling  CPN-UML had also requested the Speaker to postpone the meeting till October 30 as the party’s Local Convection (Palika Sammelan) and Party Committee meetings are ongoing.

Development and Administration

The Lumbini Provincial government has not submitted the budget even though three months have already been completed in the Fiscal Year (FY). The previous government led by CPN-UML, Shankar Pokharel had introduced this FY budget through ordinance but the budget could not be passed due to the disagreement from the opposition. Since the last three months, opposition (CPN-UML) continued obstruction in Lumbini demanding the resignation of the Member of Parliament (MP), who crossed the floor. Two MPs of CPN-UML had crossed the floor during Shankar Pokharel. While, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning, Lumbini had prepared to submit the budget on October 6 but it was not succeeded as obstruction of opposition.

Similarly, PM Sher Bahadur Deuba has not been able to implement their Common Minimum Program (CMP). PM Deuba on August 8 unveiled the CMP for working in the country’s national interest, Corona control, implementing federalism, ensuring good governance, peace and process including prioritizing the economic policy and development. But the government has not implemented their agenda except for the Corona control. Although citizens are satisfied with the prevention and control of Corona, but other agendas have not been implemented and it became limited to paper only.

After dissolution of the parliament two times within six months on December 19, 2020, and May 22, 2021 respectively, the political dissatisfaction reached its peak among the parties. And the political turmoil occurring in the central government affected the provincial including local government. As the result, there are still Province 1 and Bagmati Political phenomena that might take some time to make a stable and smooth government.

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