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Nepal: PM Oli formally expelled from NCP by the Dahal Faction:

Paper No. 6742                       Dated 26-Jan-2021
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
 
On 24th of this month, the Dahal faction of the Nepal Communist Party formally expelled Oli from the Party as part of disciplinary action against him.  This was done by the Central Committee meeting of those still loyal to Dahal and Madhav Nepal Faction.
 
The expulsion does not make any difference on the ground as the Election Commission has still not legitimatised either of the two factions- Oli’s or that of Dahal.  This may again go to the Court with claims and counter claims and it may end up of both not getting the symbols of the old Party.
 
What is significant however is that the once powerful Ruling Party with a near two thirds majority has irrevocably split, not withstanding the rear guard action played by the Chinese in pushing Bam Dev Gautham to seek reconciliation.
 
The doors for reconciliation were closed finally when Madhav Nepal ruled out any possibility of unification even if Oli admits his mistakes.
 
The Dahal faction arranged a huge rally in Kathmandu in which all the three leaders Dahal, Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal spoke.  The civic bodies independently staged a big rally near PM’s residence at Baluwater against the dissolution of the House. This time however Police were unusually aggressive and many of the well-meaning citizens who only protested peacefully were beaten up!
 
The Dahal faction has plans to start fresh protests fro today and this will take place in various stages and forms across the country with a massive really planned on Feb 10th at Kathmandu.  
 
Not to be outdone, the Oli faction has plas to have a massive rally on Feb. 5th at Bhikuthi Mandap.
 
The day after the expulsion, Oli with his wife Radhika Shakya made an unusual visit to the Pasupathinath temple in Kathmandu and had a Special Puja for an hour.  In the past none of the Communist Prime Ministers have ever visited the temple.  Oli went out of the way to meet the officials of the Pasupathi Area Development Trust and instructed them to develop the Pilgrimage site of Pasupathinath as a “holy place for adherents of Vedic Sanathan Dharma.”
 
This was unusual for a veteran communist like Oli and cynics say that he did it more to make himself  acceptable to the Pro Hindu group - the Rashtriya Praja Tantra Party as well as some in the Nepali Congress.  Some sources say that Oli does Puja every day in his house but this needs to be corroborated.  At any rate in the event of Oli forming another Government, he would need the help of both the RJP and the Nepali Congress.
 
All these would depend on how the Full Bench of the Supreme Court is going to decide on the House dissolution. 
 
Oli in his desperate hurry to dissolve the House before being removed by a no confidence motion, has created more complications for himself and worse still when he tried to cover up the mistakes.
 
Some points that came to light are
 
1.  There is confusion whether Oli’s Government was formed as a coalition Government under Article 76 (2) or of a unified party with a majority under Article 76 (1) of the Constitution.  Actually when Oli took over in 2017, both UML and the Maoist Centre existed as separate entities and only three months later the two groups merged.
 
2. The Presidential notice on dissolution was not published in the Gazette and it was done one month later and the papers were “back dated”
 
3.  The Cabinet decision to dissolve the House did not contain any reference to the articles of the Constitution.  It looks that the President added the provisions.  Does the President have the powers to amend the recommendation? It is doubtful.
 
4.  The crucial issue is the timing of the recommendation and the move for a no confidence motion.  If it was done after the motion was admitted then the recommendation is maliciouis.  Some suspect that there has been some manipulation to show that the dissolution was made before the no confidence motion was formally registered.  At any rate, it was clear that Oli knew about the proceedings to unseat him and hence the hurry to recommend dissolution.  In that hurry he probably forgot to add the provisions of the Constitution by which he was recommending the dissolution.
 
5.  Is Oli a regular functioning Prime Minister or a Care taker Prime Minister? Once the House is dissolved, Oli being not a member, cannot continue as the Prime Minister but only as a Care Taker.  This is also before the Court.
 
6.  What happens if the Court revokes the dissolution?  Can Oli try to patch up a coalition with other parties or should Dahal be asked to try to form the Government?  There are problems once when Oli has been expelled from the Party by the Dahal Faction. Who is to decide the legitimacy of the two groups? The President? Or the Election Commission or Oli himself?
 
All one can say is that Nepal is going through very interesting times.  Forget about democracy, transitional justice, economy or the pandemic.  It is power and power only!
 
 
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