Sudden Twist in National Politics
Published On: December 26, 2022 07:51 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala | @KoshRKoirala
KATHMANDU, Dec 25: Breaking its alliance with the ruling parties led by Nepali Congress (NC), the CPN (Maoist Center) has secured the post of prime minister.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Sunday evening appointed Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the new prime minister as per Article 76 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal. As per the constitutional provision, Dahal, who has been appointed as the country's executive head for the third time, will have to win a vote of confidence in parliament within the next 30 days.
The sudden twist in the course of the country's national politics that was still in the making after the November 20 general election came allegedly after Prime Minister and Nepali Congress(NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba allegedly denied Dahal the post of prime minister. Although there was an understanding among NC, Maoist Center and the Unified Socialist to share the post of prime minister, the three parties had failed to reach an agreement as to who will get to lead the new government first.
Top leaders of Maoist Center claimed that Deuba had breached his own agreement to give Dahal the post of prime minister for the first two and half years of the government. As per the understanding reached among the parties, the NC would take the post of president, while the Maoist Center would take the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) along with the prime minister for the first two and half years.
The ruling NC and the Maoist Center were engaged in a series of negotiations to finalize the power-sharing deal till Sunday morning. "We waited till the end. But as the NC did not show any sign of honoring the understanding, we approached the CPN-UML for a new alliance to form the new government," said a senior Maoist Center leader, confirming that they were in simultaneous dialogue with the NC and the UML.
Maoist Center Chairman Dahal had reached Balkot-- the residence of UML Chairman KP Oli-- after NC President and Prime Minister Deuba flatly refused to give him the post of prime minister. During the meeting held on Saturday evening, top leaders of NC had claimed that they were closer to sealing the final deal.
After the meeting between Dahal and Oli, top leaders of Rastriya Swatantra Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Janata Samajbadi Party and Janamat Party had reached there for further negotiations. They all supported the formation of a new government under the leadership of Maoist Center Chairman Dahal.
As none of the political parties in the November 20 general elections secured the required majority seats in parliament, President Bhandari had earlier served a week-long deadline for parties to stake claim to the new government leadership with the support of two or more than two parties. The deadline expired at 5pm on Sunday.
Dahal, who was accompanied by the top leaders of the seven parties that supported his prime ministerial bid, reached Shital Niwas to stake claim to the new government leadership minutes before the deadline. He staked claim with the support of a total 169 lawmakers in parliament.
A prime ministerial candidate needs to secure support of at least 138 lawmakers to garner majority votes in 275-member parliament.
Those supporting Maoist Center Chairman Dahal's bid as new prime minister include CPN-UML, Rastriya Swatantra Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Janamat Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party. Similarly, three independent lawmakers including Prabhu Shah, Kiran Kumar Shah and Dr Amaresh Singh have also supported Dahal.
NC, the biggest loser
Despite becoming the largest political party in parliament in the recently-held elections to the House of Representatives (HoR), NC is now less likely to get even a single key state positions including president, vice president, prime minister and chief ministers following the alliance between UML and the Maoist Center.
If the alliance had remained intact, NC would not only get the post of President, but also prime minister and chief ministers in various provinces. The NC President Deuba would also be able to provide ministerial as well as other portfolios in the new government and other state bodies.
These positions will now be shared among the seven political parties that have supported Dahal's prime ministerial bid. While the UML and the Maoist Center share six chief ministerial positions, Janata Samajbadi Party and Janamat Party are set to stake their claim to the post of chief minister in Madhesh Province.
According to UML leaders, the UML will take the post of president, while Rastriya Prajatantra Party or Rastriya Swatantra Party will take the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR). The post of Vice President and Chairman of National Assembly will also be shared among the coalition partners.
As per the tradition, NC in its capacity as the main opposition will likely get the post of Deputy Speaker of the HoR and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
There has been a huge dissatisfaction among leaders within the NC after the insistence of Prime Minister Deuba and his close aides to not give the post of prime minister to Chairman Dahal. During the meeting held on Sunday morning, NC Vice President Purna Bahadur Khadka had argued that the party had done a blunder by not giving the post of prime minister to Dahal.
However, Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat, another close aide of Deuba, had reacted strongly against the suggestion, arguing that there was no need to give Dahal the post of prime minister. "This had created tension in the meeting," said a leader close to Deuba.
With the latest development, NC President Deuba faces a difficult time justifying his decision to forge an electoral alliance with the Maoist Center. The rival faction led by Dr Shekhar Koirala was opposed to forging any kind of alliance during the election. This development is also set to be marked as a setback in Deuba’s political career and rise in the political career of Gagan Thapa, Bishwa Prakash Sharma and others, argue second-rung NC leaders.
Dahal's support base
Political Party Number of Seats in Parliament
CPN (Maoist Center) 32
Rastriya Swatantra Party 20
Rastriya Prajatantra Party 14
Janata Samajbadi Party 12
Janamat Party 6
Nagarik Unmukti Party 4
Prabhu Shah 1
Kiran Kumar Shah 1
Dr Amaresh Kumar Shah 1
Total seats 169
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