The politics of Nepal has re-entered the phase of long instability, and forming a durable government would be a gargantuan task for any faction.
The Himalayan state of Nepal is witnessing a renewed political turmoil, and the position of Prime Minister KP Oli has become tenuous. “The political rivalry between KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) has hit the bottom, and the likely outcome would either be a split in the Nepal Communist Party, or a change in the leadership including the prime minister. Any agreement between the warring factions appears remote at this point of time,” opines an expert.
According to Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, “In the standing committee meeting earlier this week, a majority of the members asked for Oli’s resignation both as prime minister and party chair. In that committee 30 out of 44 demanded his resignation. In order to avoid his imminent downfall, Oli took the technical decision to prorogue the budget session of the parliament. This prorogation was swiftly approved by President Vidya Devi Bhandari. Experts believe that the President acted in haste and has overstepped her madate by clearly siding with Oli. President Bhandari was earlier a vice-chair the CPN-UML, the former party of Oli. Her swift decision has not gone down well with the dissenting faction and opposition parties.”
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“The prorogation will give Prime minister Oli an opportunity to avoid a no-confidence floor test in the parliament. In the meantime, he may issue an ordinance to split the party. According to the existing law, a split in party requires the support of 40 percent of the Central Committee and 40 percent of the parliamentary party members. Insiders believe that he does have 40 percent support among the parliamentary members, but lacks support in the Central Committee which is controlled by Prachanda. His ordinance would try to change these rules by mandating the parliamentary party to execute this split. He may also try to lower the threshold for split in the Central Committee,” Prof Rajan says.
In his view, if Oli manages to split the party, he still cannot prove his majority in the house of representative as he would require 138 legislators to prove his majority. But he is banking on the support of the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, to prove his majority.
In any case, the politics of Nepal has re-entered the phase of long instability, and forming a durable government would be a gargantuan task for any faction.
“It is best to stay out Nepalese internal politics, if it can be helped,” says Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU.
“It is a thankless task, because whichever group is on the losing side will blame India. Moreover, because it is a small country and India is relatively a giant, there is always going to be an anti-India constituency. This is natural, and it happens to all large countries. For example, think of the level of anti-Americanism in Latin America. This also means that small neighbours like Nepal will seek willing external powers such as China to provide some support. This is natural too. But China will also find that such politics is expensive and thankless, as both the US and the Soviet Union found out during the Cold War. New Delhi should not get over anxious about such politics,” Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, concludes.