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Nepal: Post Dissolution Developments:

Paper No. 6727                        Dated 6-Jan-2021
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan
Thirteen cases have been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution of the Parliament and both parties- the Prime Minister and the President have given their affidavits.
The Chinese team which came to patch up the differences within the Ruling Nepal Communist Party returned empty handed.  They did meet the leader of the opposition Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress also, perhaps to keep a line of communication with them. 
Demonstrations against the dissolution took place at many places, but most significantly in Kathmandu itself, where Dahal along with Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal addressed the gathering.  Significantly, the Nepali Congress did not join the demonstrations and there is suspicion that Deuba has already got into a deal with Oli for running the Government.  This however has been officially refuted by the Nepali Congress.
Reverberations on the split in the centre are being felt in the Provinces too. The Minister for land management and former Law Minister Shivmaya Tumbolangphe hinted that they could dissolve the provincial assemblies too.  If this is done there will be more chaos, more Court Cases and a sure recipe for instability.
The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Government on the cabinet expansion which is considered illegal as Oli is said to lead only a ‘care taker’ Government that has no authority to expand the cabinet or change the portfolios.  This is coming up before a single Judge of the Supreme Court on 12th of December.
PM Oli is going about saying privately and even in one or two public places that the House dissolution cannot be annulled and that the election is the best way to move forward.  The matter is before the Supreme Court and in the normal circumstances, a person holding such a high position as Oli should wait for the result before making any remarks. But Oli continues to be arrogant and does not care.  It is hoped that the Supreme Court would pull him up.
In the current political turmoil, other pressing issues like transitional justice, economic recovery etc. have receded into the background.  Recovery is going to take a very long time.  No preparations are seen to be made as yet for the Wuhan Virus vaccine while other countries in the neighbourhood have already formulated plans.
Some details are now known as what the Chinese delegation said and what they wanted.  It appears that the delegations had two main objectives in mind- 1.  To keep the Communist Party united.  2.   Stability in Nepal.
It is only in October that during Xi Jinping’s visit, the Chinese upgraded their relationship with Nepal to a “strategic “ level.  Now that has gone down the drain.
The Chinese delegation also said that they wanted to assess the reasons behind the discord within the Party, the possibility of a patch up and the impact on Nepal China relations in future. Having realised that Oli is not amenable to reconciliation, their meeting with the Nepali Congress looks significant.
Oli told the delegation that he took the step for dissolution only because he was not receiving adequate support from his Party Colleagues.  Seeing Oli to be defiant, the delegation tried to convince the trio Dahal, Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal to join hands with Oli.  But the trio responded that the situation has gone beyond control.
According to Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a leader very close to Dahal  the delegation did not present any road map to deal with the crisis. Incidentally, the Chinese threw away the much touted “four” principles in dealing with inter party relations- namely independence, equality, mutual respect and no interference I each other’s internal affairs.  We are reminded how the Chinese in one fell swoop discarded all the past agreements in regard to the LAC with India.
Oli gave an eleven-page response to the Supreme Court on the reasons behind his recommendation for dissolution of the House.
He said that the dissolution recommendation was a ‘political move’ and therefore it does not warrant a judicial review.  In fact he even hinted  that the dissolution by the President was also a political move and outside the jurisdiction of the Court.  It is not clear how the President could use his powers for a “political move” that is beyond his jurisdiction.  However the President’s office in its response has only said that the action of the President was according to the Constitution.  No explanation was given as to why she was in such a hurry without looking for viable alternate leadership to run the Government.
Oli claimed that his move was necessitated by the “doctrine of necessity” something like what Zia did in overthrowing Bhutto!
Oli claimed that since he had commanded a majority, there was no possibility of forming another Government.  In the face of the growing conflict within the Party he could not see his party fulfilling the promises he made in their election manifesto!
Article 76 (7) of the Constitution allows a dissolution only when all the options to form a Government with the support of a majority of members have been exhausted.  This exercise was not gone through.  Some think Oli knows nothing about the Constitution or that he has been badly advised!
Nepal Media has suggested four options on the way the problem could be solved.
1.  On China’s urging Oli and Dahal resume the dialogue and Oli could withdraw the recommendation for dissolution.  Oli could remain the PM and Dahal- as full time Chairman of the Party.  Looks to be doubtful for the present.
2.  The Supreme Court reinstates the House and Oli removed by a vote of confidence.  This is possible but the Ruling NCP will split formally much to the chagrin of the Chinese.
3.  The Supreme Court reinstates the House of Representatives- Oli could declare an “emergency” with the ever complying President.  The Army and other Security Forces could be deployed.  It is speculated that the 1990 Constitution may be reintroduced and some tie up with the Monarchist forces could also be done.  The Nepali Congress may also split on the question of making Nepal a Hindu State.  This is purely speculative and there are too many unknown factors.
4.  Lastly the Supreme Court upholds the dissolution and the parties will then go for fresh elections.
For now both the Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajbadi Party have ruled out joining any one of the two factions so far.
It all depends on how the Supreme Court will decide  the case.