KATHMANDU, Aug 1: The process for electing the new government by a majority vote in Parliament will begin on Monday as the deadline set by President Bidya Devi Bhandari for forming the government through political understanding ends midnight Sunday.
In line with Clause 2, Article 298 of the new Constitution, the president on July 25 sent a letter to Parliament to elect a new prime minister on the basis of political understanding within seven days.
"The president will send another letter to Parliament if no new government is formed on the basis of political understanding within the time given in the previous letter," said Jibachchha Sah at the President's Personal Secretariat.
As the political parties failed to develop consensus, the president will now write to Parliament to elect a new prime minister by a majority of all the members of Parliament in line with Clause 3 of Article 298.
According to a source at the Parliament Secretariat, Parliament will publish an election calendar on Monday, right after it receives the letter from the president. "As per parliamentary tradition, Tuesday would be the day to file candidacy and the election will take place on Wednesday," said the source.
As the largest party Nepali Congress and some smaller parties have already agreed to support CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for new prime minister, Dahal is almost certain to replace caretaker PM KP Sharma Oli.
President Bhandari on Monday held a meeting with PM and CPN-UML Chairman Oli, Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal Chairman Kamal Thapa and Madhesi People's Right Forum-Democratic Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachchhdar at the President's Office, Shital Niwas.
According to Sah, the president enquired with the leaders about the efforts made for forming the government on the basis of political understanding.
According to Dahal's personal secretariat, he informed the president that he had discussed the issue of forming a consensus government with all the major parties but failed to develop consensus as the CPN-UML declined to join the new government alongside the Nepali Congress. Dahal, however, expressed hope that the political parties will come together in addressing national issues.
Dahal had met UML Chairman Oli on Saturday and requested him to join the new government under his (Dahal's) leadership for developing a national consensus. However, the UML replied that it could not join the new government alongside the Nepali Congress since the largest party in Parliament had been saying that one among the two largest parties should remain in opposition.
Dahal continues to seek support from other parties
Meanwhile, Dahal on Sunday met RPP-N Chairman Thapa and asked him to join the new government.
According to RPP-N Deputy Spokesperson Mohan Shrestha, the two leaders held an hours-long meeting, during which Dahal urged Thapa to join the new government. "Chairman Thapa replied that the RPP-N will discuss the formal request within his party committee and take a decision," said Shrestha. He informed that the RPP-N central committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
Likewise, Maoist Center, NC and the alliance of Madhes-based parties formed a joint taskforce on Saturday to finalize a draft elucidating the commitment that can be made by NC and the Maoists before the formation of the government and the things that they can do after its formation in order to address the agenda of Madhes-based parties.
"The taskforce met on Sunday and discussed the issues. Leaders from the Madhes-based parties reiterated that they have been holding protests to raise the political agenda relating to the Constitution and they could not join the government abruptly," said Maoist Center leader Girirajmani Pokharel.
"All the members in the taskforce expressed their views Sunday. We are developing an environment so that the Madhes-based parties could join the government. If not, we are trying to create at least an environment so that they can vote for the government," he added.
Second-rung Madhesi leaders against joining government
The second-rung leaders of Madhes-based parties have been lobbying with the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) to vote for the new government but not join it, despite written commitments from NC and the Maoist Center.
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) leader Jitendra Sonal said that the UDMF should stay out of the government so as to make constitutional amendments possible in line with their demands.
"We are an agitating force and we should not join the government now. If NC and Maoist Center express their commitment to amend the constitution and address our demands, we can vote for the new government. If we join the government, people in the streets in Madhes will lose faith in us," said Sonal.
"We cannot amend the constitution while keeping the CPN-UML out of the process. To establish a dialogue with UML and convince others about constitution amendments, we should stay out of the government," he added.