Nepal's political course appears to be heading towards an uncertain future since the division bench of the Supreme Court on March 7 nullified the entire unification process between the two major leftist forces – CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre – on the ground that they had copied the name of a party that had already been registered with the Election Commission (EC). The UML and Maoist Centre had announced their unification on May 17, 2018 under the banner of Nepal Communist Party (NCP), a party that was already registered in the name of Rishiram Kattel. Following the court's revocation of the NCP led by KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the previous CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre have now been reinstated, with the leaders returning to their respective outfits. This has created a new and unpredictable political scenario in the revived House of Representatives, which needs to form a new government as per the changed positions of the major parties. Oli's government, which used to enjoy a nearly two-thirds majority in the House, has now been practically reduced to a minority government after Dahal's Maoist Centre has emerged as a separate political entity with 53 seats following the court's ruling. Oli's UML needs the backing of at least one political party – Nepali Congress (NC), Maoist Centre or Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) – to remain in power.
The most likely scenario is that the NC or UML will try to form the next government with the backing of two other parties
Given the fluid political situation, the parties have already started wooing each other to form the next coalition government, the picture of which is not that clear as they are busy in making new political equations among themselves. The most likely scenario is that the UML may get support from one of the factions of the JSP led by Mahantha Thakur, who has already sent two emissaries to hold talks with the ruling party. If the main opposition, NC, is keen on forming the coalition, it needs the total backing of the JSP and the Maoist Centre, which has already proposed forming the new government under the NC's leadership. However, the Maoist Centre has decided not to withdraw its support to the UML until the last moment, hoping for an eventual political understanding with the former.
At the same time, the EC on Tuesday issued a 15- day notification to the UML and the Maoist Centre for party unification. They are required to submit papers of unification along with the official decisions of their respective central committees that existed before May 17, 2018. But it will not be awarded the NCP name. It is, therefore, most unlikely that the two parties, which have now become friend turned foe, will arrive at such a decision, that too, within the deadline given by the election body. The NC can form a majority government by taking the JSP and the Maoist Centre into confidence, or the UML can stay in power with the backing of a JSP faction and possibly the Maoist Centre. If both possibilities fail, which is very likely, the UML will form the government as the largest political party subject to winning the vote of confidence from the House within 30 days. Or else, there will be no option other than to go for amid-term election, for which the political parties are not prepared.
SEE in person
The decision of the National Examination Board (NEB) to hold the Secondary Education Examination (SEE) from May 27 to June 7 should allay all speculations about whether the exams will be held this year. The NEB has also decided that the students must be physically present to take the exams this year. The exams could not be held last year due to the coronavirus pandemic as the government had enforced a months-long nationwide lockdown from March 24, 2020. Since all educational institutions, including schools, were closed, students were promoted based on the internal evaluation of students. Such internal evaluation saw a lot of anomalies, with more than 9,000 students passing with a GPA of 4.0, or A+, when previously only a few hundred would receive such a score.
The students appearing for the SEE are greatly disadvantaged this year as they had to do with online classes to cover the syllabus. How the students in the rural areas, where there is no internet such as a laptop, are faring is anyone's guess. The exam schedule does not give much time for them to prepare, so they will need to burn the midnight oil for the remaining period to get even passing grades this year.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.