Trouble within Ruling Alliance

Ruling alliance on the verge of collapse over new president, home ministry row

Published On: February 1, 2023 08:29 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

KATHMANDU, Feb 1: The ruling alliance led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is on the verge of collapse amid growing inter-party differences among its constituent parties over the new president and leadership of home ministry which was allocated to the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) led by Rabi Lamichhane.

The differences between the ruling parties, mainly the CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN-UML, over the two vital state positions, has pushed the ruling alliance already on the brink of collapse, according to the party insiders.

Although the two ruling parties had earlier reached an informal understanding to elect UML candidate as a new president, Maoist Center has already announced to forge national consensus on the new presidential candidate, denying the UML to have its candidate elected as new president.

Party insiders say the Maoist Center Chairman Dahal, who was elected as the new prime minister with the support of the UML based on the same understanding, is now opposed to the idea, arguing that giving UML the post of president would bring concentration of powers with the UML.

Prime Minister Dahal has maintained that UML has its candidate already elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives and UML Chairman Oli will be the prime minister after two and half years in office. At one point, the UML will have a new president, prime minister and speaker, bringing the concentration of all major state powers within grasp of the UML.

The differences between the ruling parties have grown lately after Prime Minister Dahal denied the home ministry portfolio to RSP. The home ministry portfolio is currently lying vacant after Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Lamichhane stepped down from the post after the Supreme Court found him guilty in the citizenship case.

Lamichhane on Sunday acquired a new citizenship certificate and was reinstated as the RSP’s chairman. Lamichhane reached the prime minister’s official residence on Tuesday morning and asked him to give RSP the home ministry portfolio.

However, Prime Minister Dahal reportedly told him that he would not appoint anyone to head the home ministry until the Supreme Court releases the full text of the verdict on Lamichhane’s citizenship case. He indicated that RSP could be given to any other ministry but the home ministry.

This comes in the wake of UML Chairman Oli exerting pressure on Prime Minister Dahal to appoint Lamichhane as home minister again. Earlier on Sunday Chairman Oli had reached Baluwatar to meet Dahal in a bid to reinstate Lamichhane to the post of home minister.

A constitutional bench of the apex court found Lamichhane guilty of not renewing his citizenship after he relinquished his US citizenship which he acquired in 2014. Senior UML leaders including Shankar Pokharel have been saying in public that Lamichhane was sued to change the current balance of power.

Sources said Lamichhane on Tuesday morning even threatened Prime Minister Dahal to pull his party out of the government if the RSP is denied the portfolio of home ministry. Talking to media persons after the party’s office bearers’ meeting in Parisdanda on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Dahal said efforts are underway to not break the current ruling alliance over the row related to the home ministry. 

“We are holding discussions within the party. Our effort is to make sure that the current alliance does not break as far as possible,” he told media persons.

Prime Minister Dahal has held the home ministry for himself.

A senior UML leader, who asked not to be named, alleged that Prime Minister Dahal was trying to break the alliance. “It is difficult to save the current alliance if the UML is denied president and RSP is denied home ministry. We are still waiting to see how Prime Minister Dahal wants to move ahead,” he said.

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