Before heading to the President Bidhya Devi Bhandari's office in the evening, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had urged political parties to form a national government under his leadership.

Speaking at a press conference held at his official residence in Baluwatar this afternoon, the PM said he decided to pave the way for the formation of a new government without waiting for 30 days as the government was required to bring programme and policies and the new fiscal budget on May 29.

He said parties had the opportunity to form a national government under his leadership to unitedly combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he dissolved the House of Representatives on December 20 as leaders of his own party were not letting him govern.

He said though the opposition parties sought reinstatement of the House of Representatives to table a no-trust motion against him, they didn't do so.

He said if snap polls were announced, they would be held in October or November. "In any case, general elections are slated for October-November next year. Sky will not fall if they are held one year earlier," said Oli.

He said even during the pandemic, polls took place in the United States and in Indian states, including West Bengal.

He defended the president, who has drawn flak from the opposition for even supporting his unconstitutional moves, saying that as per the constitution, the president acts only on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.

"The president is a symbol of republican order. The opposition should not bring the office of the president into controversy," the PM said. He said by recommending the president to ask lawmakers to stake claim for the PM's post under Article 76 (5), he had paved the way for the formation of a new government.

Govt's move challenged

Thirteen writ petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court challenging the recommendation made by the government to the president to ask lawmakers to stake claim for the PM's post under Article 76(5).

According to Joint Registrar of the Supreme Court Baburam Dahal, the court will decide on Sunday whether or not it should accept those petitions. Petitioners have argued that the PM fraudulently made the recommendation to the president as he had neither resigned nor lost trust vote in the HoR before invoking Article 76 (5). Dahal said out of 13 petitions, the court returned three to the petitioners telling them to complete legal formalities before the court could consider them.

What's wrong with Oli's claim for PM's post

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's move to stake claim for the PM's post under Article 76 (5) has drawn flak.

Senior Advocate Shambhu Thapa said the PM's claim was not tenable because he had already told the president that he was not in a position to command majority in the House of Representatives. "Article 76 (5) is invoked only when the PM appointed under Article 76 (3) fails to win the trust vote. Only lawmakers other than the PM can stake claim for the PM's post under this clause," Thapa argued.

He said the president should appoint Deuba as the next PM, as he was the only valid candidate.

Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said, "Since the prime minister has neither resigned nor lost trust vote after being appointed the PM under Article 76 (3), he does not have any legal ground to stake claim to form the next government," he argued.

Senior Advocate Mithilesh Kumar Singh told THT that Oli's claim was against the 'principle of estoppel' as he had told the president on Thursday that he didn't have enough numbers to win the vote of confidence.

The estoppel principle precludes a person from asserting something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination. Oli had recommended that the president initiate the process of forming the next government under Article 76 (5) since he was not in a position to win the vote of confidence as the situation was not much different from May 10 when he failed the floor test.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.