How a Nepal Supreme Court decision adds a fresh twist to the saga of political instability in the tiny Himalayan nation
- Last Updated: July 13, 2021, 14:39 IST
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Nepal has struggled to find stability as it emerged from a bloody Maoist insurgency and overthrew the monarchy more than a decade back. A new constitution was enacted in 2015, but political leaders have not always been able to work together with factionalism rife among the ranks of the various parties. Now, in a twist to the political saga, the country’s Supreme Court has reinstated the Nepalese Parliament that was dissolved by KP Oli. Here’s how things got here.
Why Was Nepal Lower House Dissolved Twice In A Matter Of Months?
After the Maoist insurgency that lasted from 1996 to 2006 and following the abolition of monarchy, Nepal finally got a new Constitution in 2015. National elections under the new constitution were held for the first time in 2017. The elections were swept by an alliance of KP Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre led by Pushpa Kamal Daha, better known as ‘Prachanda’. Their alliance was named as Nepal Communist Party.
According to reports, initially the two alliance partners had agreed on a ‘gentlemen’s plan’ to equally share the prime minister’s seat before they decided to settle for a “one man-one post” arrangement by which Oli would continue as PM while Prachanda led the alliance. But Dahal and his supporters accused Oli of not honouring his commitments and acting unilaterally, which saw them make attempts to remove the PM.
With his back against the wall and under pressure from Prachanda, Oli announced that he was dissolving the parliament in December last year. However, the Nepalese Supreme Court overruled the move in February this year and ordered reinstatement and a vote of confidence to be held instead. But Oli lost the confidence vote held in May whereupon he again recommended to Nepal President Bidhya Rani Bhandari that the parliament be dissolved, which she duly ordered.
In the meantime, the Nepal Communist Party alliance split between CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre with the Supreme Court ruling in March 2021 that the NCP stood “dismissed” and the name NCP was already allotted to another party.
Why Has Nepal SC Reinstated The House?
After losing the vote of confidence, Oli advised the Nepalese president Bhandari to announce elections in November this year, almost one year ahead of schedule. Bhandari’s decision is seen as being influenced by Oli even as the leader of the opposition in parliament, 75-year-old Sher Bahadur Deuba — the chief of the Nepali Congress and a four-time former PM — failed to muster the numbers to stake a claim for forming the government.
But the President’s move was challenged in the Supreme Court with experts saying that the new constitution of the country provides safeguards against the holding of frequent elections. It was pointed out that Bhandari had to first call on all claimants — in this case Oli and Deuba — to attempt to prove their majority on the floor of the House and that she was mandated to exhaust all options before calling for dissolving the House and calling for fresh elections.
However, the Nepal Supreme Court has again ruled against the dissolution of the House and said that Deuba be appointed as prime minister. He is expected to hold a confidence vote within a week.
Who Is KP Oli?
Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, 69, is a two-time PM of Nepal and the first to fill the seat after the country adopted its new constitution in 2015. He gained popularity in Nepal for standing up to India during the economic blockade of 2015 that New Delhi was accused to have imposed over its displeasure with the new Nepalese constitution.
Oli’s two tenures as PM have seen ties being strained with India and the recent instance of Nepal government maps showing three areas as part of the country — Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiadhura — which were, however, included by India in an earlier map is a case in point. Last month, he had also questioned whether Yoga was born in India
“Much before the existence of India as a nation, yoga was practiced in Nepal. When yoga was discovered, India had not been constituted. There was no country like India then; there were just several fringe states. So, yoga originated in Nepal or around Uttarakhand. Yoga did not originate in India,” Oli said. He had earlier also said that Lord Ram was born in Nepal.
Amid the internal tussle within his alliance and political crisis in Nepal, he had last year accused India of plotting to destabilise his government.
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