Updated: May 10, 2021 7:45:56 pm
Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari Monday prorogued the country’s Parliament after the government headed by Prime Minister K P Oli lost a vote of confidence following several months of bickering among factions within the ruling party.
The vote of confidence placed by Oli before the 271-member House of Representatives secured 93 votes in favour and 124 against.
At least 28 dissidents from the ruling Nepal Communist Party – Unified Marxist Leninist (NCP-UML), including former prime ministers Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, abstained from voting, and are likely to lose their House seats for defying the party whip.
Late Monday, the House Speaker sent a letter to the President, informing that Oli has lost the House majority. Oli also met the President separately. Sources said the President’s move to prorogue the House gives Oli an opening to remain in control while bypassing the House.
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Oli’s fortunes have been waning since December last year when he got the President to unilaterally dissolve the House. The President also announced fresh elections in April and May. However, the dissolved House was reinstated by the Supreme Court early this year.
Last week, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) — a key faction led by Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda” — withdrew support to the government, leaving it without a majority in the House. The party said the Oli government had breached the Constitution and that its recent activities posed a threat to the democratic process and national sovereignty.
On Monday, moving a motion for the vote of confidence, Oli said it was “unfortunate” that a government that “tirelessly worked for the country’s development and nation building” is being “targeted for narrow and partisan interests”.
Prominent leaders, including Sher Bahadur Deuba of Nepali Congress and Prachanda, blamed Oli for his failure to tackle the Covid outbreak that has spiked over the last few weeks. They said “corruption and scandals” had blocked the supply of timely delivery of vaccines from India.
Last month, Nepal was reporting just about 100 cases a day. On May 10, 9,271 people tested positive and 139 others succumbed to Covid.
Nepal has also been one of the beneficiaries of India’s vaccine diplomacy, with 2.4 million doses sent so far.
In India, the latest political twist is being tracked with keen interest, especially after a slide in bilateral ties after the boundary row last summer under Oli’s leadership.
India’s inauguration of a new road from Dharchula to Lipulekh on the Mansarovar Yatra route had angered the Oli government, which came out with a new map of Nepal, adding to it an area of 370 sq km at the tri-junction of Nepal, India and China (Tibet), which India maintains is its territory.
A Constitution amendment Bill was passed by Nepal’s parliament to legitimise the alteration to the country’s map with the addition of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. The passage of the Bill and the new map led to breakdown of communication between the two countries.
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