KATHMANDU, Jan 11: Having opposition parties is a crucial aspect of a functioning democracy, as it provides a mechanism for checks and balances on the ruling parties and also allows for alternative viewpoints and policies to be presented and debated. But with all major political parties including the Nepali Congress (NC) giving a vote of confidence to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, there has been a debate if there are opposition parties in parliament.
There are 12 political parties including seven nationally recognized parties in the House of Representatives (HoR). Of them, only two fringe parties -- People’s Front Nepal and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party—with one lawmaker each chose to vote against the trust motion put forth by Prime Minister Dahal.
NC had forged an electoral alliance with the CPN (Maoist Center)-led by Dahal. Although the parties contested the parliamentary election together with a pledge to form a new government, the Maoist Center decided to part its way after the NC allegedly denied the prime ministerial berth as agreed earlier and Dahal became new prime minister with the support of the CPN-UML—the second largest party in the parliament—and few other smaller parties.
After the alliance with the Maoist Center was broken, NC was expected to stay in the opposition in parliament even as the party emerged as the largest party in the recently-held election. The decision of NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to cast votes in favor of Prime Minister Dahal has caught many by a surprise, courting severe criticisms against the NC.
Talking to media persons after the voting in parliament, senior NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel said they decided to vote in favor of Prime Minister Dahal as the UML had ‘hijacked’ the alliance they formed earlier to safeguard the constitution following the unconstitutional move of the then Prime Minister K P Oli to dissolve the parliament. He described their decision as a move to seek a ‘course correction’.
Senior leader Poudel, who was widely seen as NC’s presidential candidate, said the NC did not give votes to Dahal out of any kind of power-sharing agreement. “We supported Prime Minister Dahal to safeguard the constitution that is likely to be threatened again,” he said, while hinting that there could be a similar move as in the past to dissolve the elected parliament.
NC youth leader Pradip Poudel said his party will stay in opposition in parliament even as they voted in favor of Prime Minister Dahal. “NC is still in opposition. Although I personally had suggested not giving a vote of confidence to Prime Minister Dahal, our party decided to vote in favor of Dahal. We accepted the party’s decision. NC will continue to be in the opposition. There is no chance of joining the government,” said Poudel.