Nepal was in turmoil Thursday after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, refusing to yield to party pressure to step down, got both Houses of Parliament prorogued without consulting their presiding officers to ward off threats to his continuance in office.
The move angered his Maoist partners led by former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ who met President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to protest Oli’s “unconstitutional” action and its instant endorsement by her.
Prachanda and Oli are co-chairpersons of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. A crucial meeting of the party centralcommittee has been deferred till Saturday as efforts are being made to keep the party intact.
Under fire for his remark that India was plotting with a section of Nepal’s political leadership to topple his government, Oli was said to be toying with the idea of promulgating an ordinance to effect a change in law that would allow him to explore the possibility of splitting the ruling NCP. He could stitch a new coalition, possibly with the Opposition Nepali Congress under Sher Bahadur Deuba, to remain in power.
NCP spokesperson and former Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha acknowledged that the party was going through a deep crisis and efforts were on to keep the unity.
There is deep division in the ruling party over Oli’s functioning in general, and his handling of relations with India in particular.
Days after he steered a constitution amendment Bill to get parliamentary sanction for Nepal’s new map that includes three territories with India (Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura), Oli alleged that India and a section of the leaders in Kathmandu were plotting to remove him from power.
Angry party members said he had put the government and the party in a difficult spot with unsubstantiated charges and must step down.
Explained | What changed in India-Nepal ties?
As the chorus grew and pressure mounted, the Oli Cabinet recommended that the House of Representatives and Rastriya Sabha be prorogued. The presiding officers of the two Houses were not consulted. President Bhandari signed instantly on the recommendation.
It is expected that Oli will soon make changes in the Cabinet by dropping rebels. He may also bring an ordinance to effect a change in law to split the party. The provision that requires 40 per cent support of both the parliamentary party and central committee to allow a split may be tweaked to 40 per cent support of either the parliamentary party or the central committee.
Both Oli and Bhandari, a highly placed source said, feel they have been “betrayed” by Prachanda who had assured that he would not let members press too hard for Oli’s resignation.
“It was following this assurance that President Bhandari had asked Oli to hold the standing committee meeting. Twenty-five members, who have spoken so far, demanded Oli’s resignation, Prachanda himself in the forefront,” the source said. At the standing committee meeting, and during informal consultations, Oli has made it clear that he is not going to quit just because some people want it.
“While he is ready to change his attitude and behaviour, and this has been a major complaint, he may not hesitate to form a new party, join hands with the Opposition Nepali Congress to form a coalition government,” an Oli opponent said, adding that Oli will try his best to keep rivals Prachanda and Madhav Nepal out of power.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines