Kathmandu, December 24
Ending months of speculation, Samajwadi Party-Nepal today exited the government. Ministers representing the party — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Upendra Yadav and Minister of Urban Development Mohammad Ishtiaq Rai — tendered their resignation to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers this afternoon.
In his resignation addressed to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, SP-N Chairperson Yadav said the government unilaterally broke the two-point pact signed between the then Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal and the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) on 28 May 2018 on the basis of which the FSF-N joined the government. The FSF-N merged with Naya Shakti Party-Nepal to form the SP-N.
In the agreement signed between Yadav and NCP Co-chairmen KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the two sides had agreed to address issues raised by the FSF-N during its agitation by amending the constitution on the basis of mutual understanding and in the interest of people and nation.
Yadav stated in his resignation that he time and again raised the issue of constitution amendment in the Cabinet and in the Parliament, and even submitted a written reminder to the prime minister.
“In this context, in my capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, I presented a proposal in the Cabinet yesterday to form an expert recommendation committee to do groundwork for constitution amendment. However, the government rejected the proposal, making it clear that it had broken the two-point pact unilaterally,” stated Yadav. “Since there’s no moral reason to remain in the government, I resign from the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs with immediate effect,” he added.
The SP-N’s decision to quit the government comes on the heels of the NCP forging an electoral alliance with Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal for the upcoming election of the National Assembly in Province 2. Earlier, the RJP-N, FSF-N and Nepali Congress had cooperated for NA election in the province.
In the last Cabinet reshuffle, Oli allotted Yadav, the then minister of health and population, the portfolio of law, justice and parliamentary affairs when Yadav was on a foreign trip. Although Yadav had said the reshuffle was done in consultation with him, some party leaders, including SP-N Federal Council Chairperson Baburam Bhattarai, strongly criticised the government for insulting the party by reshuffling the Cabinet without consulting it.
Speculations about SP-N quitting the government had started right after the merger of Yadav-led FSF-N and Bhattarai-led NSP-N. Bhattarai had been pressuring Yadav to quit the government and start a new movement for constitution amendment. The speculation got further currency after Cabinet reshuffle and NA election alliance between the NCP and RJP-N.
The fresh development has also given rise to another speculation that the RJP-N will join the government.
However, RJP-N leaders say they will not join the government unless their concerns are addressed. RJP-N leader Laxman Lal Karna said if they had to join the government, they would have done so much earlier as the party had initially extended its support to the government.
“How can we join the government at a time when our party members are still facing police cases and our leaders are in jail,” said Karna. “Above all, there has not been any progress regarding our major demand of constitution amendment.”
As far as the NA election alliance is concerned, Karna said they did so because it was the only option for them to maintain their representation in the Upper House. He added that it was purely an election alliance.
Meanwhile, the exit of the SP-N means the government no longer enjoys two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives. Of the total 275 HoR members, NCP has 174, 10 short of two-thirds majority. SP-N has 17 HoR members.
A version of this article appears in print on December 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.