Nepal PM Oli facing certain defeat in today's no-confidence vote, pushes for constitutional crisis

| Updated: Jul 24, 2016 17:27 IST

Kathmandu, July 24 (ANI): Nepal's Prime Minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, who is facing certain defeat in today's no-confidence motion against him in Parliament, is going all out to trigger a constitutional crisis in order to prolong his stay in office. The beleaguered Prime Minister is claiming that the new Constitution is silent on procedures for formation of a new government if the incumbent is pulled down by way of a no-confidence motion. Oli, who until recently was offering the Prime Ministership to Pushpa Kamal Dahal, commonly known as Prachanda, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), in order to 'ensure Left unity' when the Maoist leader first withdrew support, and more recently made overtures to Ram Chandra Paudel (who recently lost the Nepali Congress Presidential contest to Sher Bahadur Deuba) to remain in government, is clearly having double standards with regard to Constitutional provisions. When it suits his candidates, the much touted Article 268 of the Constitution (which clearly provides for formation of a new government) has the required enabling provisions, but when it comes to Prachanda or Deuba forming a government, Oli is quick to point out that Article 268 is but a one-time provision which enabled him to become Prime Minister in October 2015. Political watchers in Nepal say in that any parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister of the day would have resigned and paved the way for the formation of a new government, the moment a coalition partner withdrew support and reduced the government to minority. But not so in the case of Oli, who is seeking to cling onto power, even in a caretaker capacity, for as long as he can. While pro-Oli legal experts in Nepal have doctored their legal advice to 'suit their boss' by stating that no provisions exists for the formation of a new government, and these include responsible government functionaries such as Law Minister Agni Kharel and Attorney General Hari Phuyal, other legal luminaries are of the unanimous view that not only does Article 268 provide for a smooth transition, but even unwritten constitutions of the world and international jurisprudence provide enough precedence for formation of a new government in lieu of one that has lost the confidence of the House. Oli's obvious intention is to engineer a constitutional crisis by asking his former aide and close associate President Bidya Bhandari to rule in favour of his legal interpretation. Such an interpretation, or a reference of what is essentially a political issue to the judiciary, would, in Oli's assessment, ensure that he can continue as Prime Minister for an indefinite period. Ironically, one of the reasons being given for Oli to continue is to ensure that he is in office when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Nepal later this year, en-route for the BRICS Summit in New Delhi. In a tactical move to substantiate his view point, Oli went so far as to field former Speaker and senior UML leader Subhash Nemwang to speak immediately after Prachanda introduced the vote of no-confidence on July 22 and got him to state that "while the NCM will compel the Oli government to resign, the formation of a new government would not be possible in the absence of provisions for the same in the Constitution". This, however, has been contested vehemently by subsequent speakers in Parliament, during the debate on the no-confidence. While Bimlendra Nidhi of the Nepali Congress said that the process of change of government was 'the beauty of democratic systems, and that the same would strengthen parliamentary democracy in Nepal', Ramesh Lekhak, also of the Nepali Congress, questioned the motive behind Oli's interpretation and wondered how the Constitution makers would not have envisaged a change of government in a democracy, if Oli's view were to be accepted. Notwithstanding Oli's efforts to drag his feet and prolong his Prime Ministership by advancing meaningless arguments regarding the absence of provisions for a change of government in the Constitution, sooner rather than later, Oli will be evicted from office, however reluctantly he leaves. But the damage to the UML is likely to be colossal, as the party would end up paying a heavy price during the elections for Oli's misguided moves. Elections to the Village Development Councils, Provincial Assemblies and eventually to the Parliament are due in quick succession between now and 2017. Nepali political analysts say that the country and its polity would heave a big sigh of relief after the departure of Oli, who has proven himself a cunning and treacherous partner, double crossing his political allies and violating the 'gentleman's accord', which had paved the way for his Prime Ministership. The Prachanda-Deuba tie-up, which has led to the ouster of Oli, is expected to auger well for the future of Nepal and its public. Prachanda, despite his Maoist background, is now a man of peace, and his broad alliance with Deuba and the Madhesis would usher in a regime working for the resolution of outstanding problems, and bringing about much needed peace and unity to a fractured and divided country. (ANI)