Four UML lawmakers cross floor


Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi won trust vote today after four CPN-UML lawmakers crossed the floor during the voting and the Nepali Congress extended support to Shahi.

Shahi, who belongs to CPN-Maoist Centre, was required to muster support of 20 lawmakers in the 40-member Karnali Provincial Assembly, but secured 22 votes - 12 CPN-MC, six NC, and four CPN-UML. Thirty-seven lawmakers were present in today's meeting.

Speaker of Karnali PA Raj Bahadur Shahi said 15 lawmakers voted against Shahi.

Four UML lawmakers - Kurma Raj Shahi, Prakash Jwala, and Amar Bahadur Thapa close to Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal and Nanda Singh Budha from Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli faction - crossed the floor.

CPN-MC had 13 lawmakers before it removed Dharma Raj Regmi for defecting to the UML.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which has one seat in the PA, remained neutral.

Prakash Jwala said if the party leadership ignored the call for keeping the party unity intact, it should be ready to face such action. He said he was not scared of punitive action by the party leadership.

Nanda Singh Budha said he voted for Shahi against party whip to teach the party leadership a lesson. "We hope that our action today will teach the party leadership not to promote division in the party," he added. Budha said he supported Shahi to help the government in Karnali complete its five-year term.

The Nepal-Khanal faction of the UML has accused Oli of arbitrarily amending the party statute, reshuffling party committees, and promoting factionalism. The rival faction has formed parallel committees across the nation.

Addressing the PA today, Nepali Congress parliamentary party leader Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said even though six NC votes would not have tilted the balance in favour of the CM, his party decided to support the CM. "If we had supported the CPN-UML, we would have been accused of being power hungry," he added.

UML lawmaker Karvir Shahi said action would be taken against the four lawmakers who violated the party's whip and crossed the floor to vote for Shahi.

The party will soon complain to the Election Commission and all four will lose their PA seats, he added.

UML and CPN-MC had unified to become Nepal Communist Party (NCP), but the Supreme Court nullified their unification on March 7, reviving UML and CPN-MC.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.