House dissolution: Political instability feared
This has proved that it is hard for any government, whether a majority one or a coalition one, to last its full term. And political stability has become a will-o-the-wisp in a sense. Our leaders know that political instability is a setback in development and prosperity goals, such as the goal of graduating to a developing country and meeting the SGDs
When the government was formed under the leadership of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in February 2018, after the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) obtained resounding success in the elections to the local, provincial and federal governments, people thought that the government would last a five-year term and there would be political stability, paving the way for all-round development, prosperity and public welfare. In fact, the NCP was able to garner a two-thirds majority in the federal parliament, to form provincial governments in six out of the seven provinces and to dominate local governments due to the merger between the erstwhile CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre.
The unification process of the CPN had not been completed when the party split vertically into two factions: one led by KP Sharma Oli and the other by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Madhav Kumar Nepal. The breakup erupted after Prime Minister Oli unilaterally dissolved the parliament on December 20, fearing a no-confidence motion against him. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari endorsed the proposal, apparently without so much as consulting constitution experts on a grave matter like the dissolution of the parliament. On the other hand, President Bhandari declined to endorse the proposal of convening the winter session of the Parliament. Oli was fearful that if the parliamentary session took place, he would have to face a no-confidence motion and he would be ousted from the premiership.
As soon as the parliament was dissolved, some ministers in the Dahal-Nepal camp stepped down.
Prime Minister Oli has now rejiggered the Cabinet, inducting new ministers and changing the portfolios of some existing ones.
The dissolution of the parliament has engendered adverse ramifications in the political scenario.
The Dahal-Nepal faction has removed Oli as the party co-chair and leader of the parliamentary party, making Madhav Kumar Nepal the co-chair and Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ the leader of the parliamentary party. In retaliation, the Oli faction has ousted Prachanda from the post of co-chair and stripped him of executive powers. Both the factions are now claiming that they are the legitimate or authentic CPN.
The matter has now reached the Election Commission (EC). The EC is working towards sorting out the dispute between the two factions on the basis of the constitution, existing laws, the law relating to political parties, precedents established by the Supreme Court, party statutes and other relevant documents. The faction that is not officially recognised as the authentic CPN will have to be registered with the EC as a separate party.
The matter of the dissolution of the parliament has also reached the Supreme Court. As many as 13 writs have been registered with the court against the dissolution of the parliament.
All these writs are now in the Constitutional Bench, and hearing on them will begin from January 6, 2021. In the writs, it is claimed that despite having a majority in the parliament, Prime Minister Oli dissolved it mala fide by abusing the constitution.
As per the constitution, the prime minister of a majority government cannot dissolve the parliament and that it is not his or her prerogative.
The Dahal-Nepal faction and other groups of people are in the streets in protest against the dissolution of the parliament. Unsurprisingly, the Oli faction is also in the streets, defending Oli’s move to dissolve it. It seems that the parliament was dissolved not on the basis of the relevant constitutional provisions but from a political motive.
Along with announcing the dissolution of the parliament, Prime Minister Oli also announced mid-term polls slated for April 30 and May 10, 2021. The cost for conducting the polls will be huge, running into billions for a cash-strapped country like Nepal, given that over Rs 7 billion was spent on conducting the federal and provincial elections in 2017. From a financial viewpoint, spending such a huge amount does not make sense under the present circumstances, when the country is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and a huge amount will be required for the procurement of vaccines.
Further, the scare of the COVID-19 pandemic has not subsided yet. Conducting elections amid the coronavirus is not free from risks. The rallies, assemblies and meetings taking place daily for or against the dissolution of the Parliament have made a mockery of the safety protocol to be followed to ward off the coronavirus.
These are the corollary to the dissolution of the parliament.
No government has lasted its full term since the restoration of multi-party democracy in Nepal in the early 1990s. Before the republican setup was introduced in the country, there were also instances in which the House was dissolved by then prime ministers like Girija Prasad Koirala, Man Mohan Adhikary and Sher Bahadur Deuba.
There was political instability in the country, hampering development activities.
No one has imagined that the present government with a clear majority in the parliament would take such a drastic step two years before its full term.
This has really betrayed the people’s mandate authorising the government to work for five years.
On the other hand, this has also proved that it is hard for any government, whether a majority one or a coalition one, to last its full term. And political stability has become a will-o-thewisp in a sense. Our leaders know that political instability is a setback in development and prosperity goals, such as the goal of graduating to a developing country and meeting the SDGs.
Still, our leaders seem to be after their own self-interests.
This does not bode well for ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’, the slogan adopted by the Oli government itself.