Explained: what next for KP Oli and Nepal

On Monday, Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli lost a vote of confidence in parliament, leaving the country’s politics in limbo.

Oli, chairman of the Unified Nepalese-Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, came to power for the second time in 2018, in the first parliamentary polls under the new constitution promulgated in September 2015.

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Two factors have helped to strengthen its image. He had stood up to India when it launched an economic blockade after the promulgation of the Constitution, and expressed his displeasure at the grievances of the inhabitants of the Terai that had not been addressed. Second, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center aligned with Oli’s party during the elections and then merged to form the Communist Party of Nepal.

His image took a heavy hit at the end of the first half of his five-year tenure in September of last year. His refusal to leave his seat, as agreed, in favor of Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, co-chair of the Communist Party of Nepal, ultimately proved his downfall.

The vote

In the vote of confidence, 93 members supported Oli and 124 opposed him, while 28 members of his own party – including former Prime Ministers Jhalnath Khanal and Madhav Nepal – abstained on behalf of the party whip, and 15 others remained neutral. With a few deputies absent on Monday, the Chamber has a staff of 267; to become a PM, anyone will need at least 134 votes.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari called on the parties to assert their rights by Thursday evening. Article 76, paragraph 2, of the Constitution obliges a leader to provide proof of majority support in the House and then to prove it on the ground within one month. If no claim is made by the Thursday night deadline, the President will invoke Rule 76 (3), which would mean that the leader of the largest party in the House – in this case Oli himself – would have to be invited to form government, and proving his majority within 30 days. Oli is unlikely to step aside and lead the way for someone else.

Rival turned supporter

When his own comrades abandoned him, Oli found unlikely support from Mahanth Thakur, the first chairman of the Janata Samajbadi party with 32 members in parliament. He remained neutral with 14 members while 15 others voted against Oli. Thakur and his group are considering action against Upendra Yadav, leader of the other faction.

Thakur and other Terai-based political groups had been accused of blocking the border after the constitution was enacted in an attempt to absolve India, as anti-Indian sentiment grew in Nepal. More than 60 people protesting against the Constitution had lost their lives and India had raised the issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Thakur and his party then declared Oli the greatest enemy of the people of Terai.

But in the new tie with Oli, Thakur does not appear to worry about his party’s likely split, with half of the members in favor of supporting Nepalese Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new prime minister. Deuba was promised the support of the Nepalese Communist Party – Maoist Center which has 48 members (plus the President).

Next move of the dissidents

Dissidents like Khanal and Nepal can play a decisive role or disappear from the political scene altogether now. Although their abstention brought down Oli, the decision to resign from the House or wait for Oli to suspend or end his membership will be decisive in choosing the next leader. If they resign, the effective House size will drop to 239, which will allow Deuba to easily win with 124 votes. If they wait for Oli to act, it will favor the person they wanted to end up politically. If Oli does not terminate his membership before the ground test, Deuba would need at least 134 seats – which seems impossible at the moment.

Proximity to the president

Oli and President Bhandari were from the same faction within the party, and this bond has remained intact after his assumption of the presidency. As dissent grew inside, Oli unilaterally dissolved parliament on December 20, which the president immediately approved (the Supreme Court ruled illegal 65 days later). Oli has made frequent visits to the President’s House without any press release being issued on the matter, and the President has hosted meetings of her former party on numerous occasions. Last month, she visited the home of dissident leader Khanal to request a fix. Last week Deuba said she did not deserve to be president and “we would have kicked her out if we had the numbers”.

With President Bhandari behind him, Oli will be keen to come back, while Deuba will struggle to comment. Mid-term polls seem unlikely due to the pandemic. If Oli becomes Prime Minister and dissolves the House before seeking the vote of confidence, he will lead without any responsibility.

ROLE OF THE SUPREME COURT: Shortly after reestablishing Parliament after Oli’s dissolution, the Supreme Court gave a solution to a problem that worked in Oli’s favor. Rishi Kattel, who registered the “Communist Party of Nepal” with the Election Commission, petitioned that the party was hijacked by the new NCP that the Maoists and UML formed after their merger. The Supreme Court reinstated Kattel’s name and ruled that the two parties that had merged would revert to their pre-merger identities, virtually announcing their divorce. This was a boon for Oli, as his rivals had launched a campaign to get rid of him.

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Oli’s legacy

LINKS WITH INDIA, CHINA: Relations between Nepal and India were strained during Oli’s two terms. First it was the blockade, then the Nepalese government released a 370 km2 map with Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiadhura, months after India had these areas on its map.

It is not known how the thaw came about, but Oli, who once told parliament that Indian officers were plotting to dislodge him from power, recently retrained and did not either no longer raised the border or other contentious issues in public. .

Oli distanced himself from China by not promoting the Belt and Road Initiative projects to which Nepal is a signatory and by not signing an extradition treaty as promised during President Xi Jinping’s visit to October.

China has stepped up its presence in Nepal, increasing its investments and subsidies especially after 2006, apparently in retaliation to India and Western countries (including the United States) by aligning itself with Nepal’s pro-democracy parties. to bring about radical changes. India’s interest in Nepal’s domestic politics has at times been widely criticized. The new equations between Thakur (which India had supported) and Oli illustrate a change.

Recently, China has also competed with India in its vaccine diplomacy by providing vaccines, oxygen cylinders and ventilators amid a growing pandemic in Nepal.

TOTAL CONTROL: Oli had gradually invested all powers, bringing under himself the National Intelligence Agency, tax intelligence and the anti-money laundering department. He passed laws against the media and the privacy of citizens. He held all key positions in constitutional committees with party officials.

Neither the opposition nor the leaders of his party actually contested it. It started to crop up when Prachanda made sure that Oli was not going to honor his promise to share the presidency with the Prime Minister on a rotating basis. Leaders of the party’s standing committee and central committee began raising issues in public, alleging that Oli was running the government without consulting the party on important issues. Oli then began to lead the government and the party from his home, citing security reasons.

His promises to connect Nepal to China and India by rail, to begin waterway trade with India and beyond, and many others remained on paper, which made him l ‘object of ridicule lately. He has also been accused of promoting and patronizing corruption. He remained silent even when there was evidence of huge waste in purchasing medical supplies at the time of the pandemic. The fallout was rebellion within the party and the abstention of 28 members in the vote of confidence.

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