PM Oli is seeking a vote of confidence today in parliament. Will he survive?

Published On: May 10, 2021 12:22 PM NPT By: Kamal Subedi  | @Inspiredkamal

KATHMANDU, May 10:  A special session of the House of Representatives (HoR) is scheduled to vote on Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s confidence motion at 1 PM on Monday. 

Oli has announced to seek a vote of confidence in parliament two months after the Supreme Court invalidated the unity reached between CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center). The two parties had formed Nepal Communist Party (NCP) after the merger deal on May 17, 2018.

Passing a verdict on a writ petition filed by Rishi Kattel, the apex court ruled that the name NCP belonged to the Kattel-led party. A single bench of Justice Kumar Regmi asked both UML Chairman Oli and Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to go to the Election Commission within 15 days with a new name if they both wanted to keep the party unity intact. Amid growing intra-party rivalry, both Oli and Dahal did not seek to go to the Election Commission to save party unity.

Before the merger deal, the two parties had formed a left alliance and won a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections in 2017. The Maoist Center, however, withdrew its support extended to the Oli government on May 2 after Oli announced to seek parliament’s confidence vote. 

Mathematics in parliament, will Oli secure majority votes?

Let's look at the mathematical equation in parliament. Four seats in the 275-member parliament have been lying vacant since the Maoist Center decided to sack four of its lawmakers following their decision to join the CPN-UML and four other lawmakers are under suspension for various reasons. Since the number of lawmakers that is counted for majority is 271, a prime ministerial candidate needs to garner support of 136 lawmakers. 

The ruling CPN-UML alone has a total 121 lawmakers. While the main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC) has 61 lawmakers, the Maoist Center has 49 lawmakers including Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota. Similarly, Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) has 32 lawmakers and Nepal Workers' and Peasants Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Rastriya Janamorcha Party each have one lawmaker in parliament. Two lawmakers of JSP are under suspension. 

The ruling UML on Sunday issued a whip to its lawmakers to vote in favor of KP Oli. However, the lawmakers close to the senior leaders duo Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Kahanl are reportedly preparing to resign en masse if their concerns are not addressed in the party. If it happens, it is apparent that Oli will not be able to secure a confidence vote even if he is voted by a faction of Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP). The 32-member JSP on Sunday decided not to impose a whip on its lawmakers. 

The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC), through its parliamentary party meeting on Saturday,  decided that it would vote against the Oli-led government. Similarly, the Maoist Party will also vote against Oli as it recently withdrew its support of the government. 

The scenario suggests that PM Oli is required to get all the votes from his party and additional 15 votes to survive as the prime minister. However, the intra-party rift within his own party and slim prospect of receiving support from opposition parties indicate that he will not be able to secure a vote of confidence. 

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