Political tumult in Nepal

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The political kaleidoscope has turned again in Nepal, throwing up yet another government. The Nepal Supreme Court on Monday restored Parliament which was dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on May 21, after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli lost the majority in the House. The President also announced that elections to the House of Representatives would be held on November 12 and 19. Oli, however, still continues to be the Prime Minister because no other party has till date come forward to form an alternative government.

Interestingly, ravaging the hopes of Oli, on Monday, the apex court not only restored Parliament but ordered President Bhandari to appoint Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new Prime Minister. This not only means a big disaster for Oli but also means that he has to now relinquish the post. The five-member Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court has also ordered the summoning of the House by July 18. As there is no question of seeking a trust vote, Deuba is expected to continue as PM till November. Political instability in Nepal has persisted because the two factions of the now-defunct Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress have their voters fiercely loyal to their respective parties. In the present House of Representatives (Lower House), the Oli faction of the now-dissolved Nepal Communist Party has 121 members, the Prachanda faction has 49 members and the Nepali Congress has 63 members. There are a bunch of smaller parties, each having one or two representatives in the House and do not add up to a significant number to sway the voting in the House this way or that. In any fresh election, the parliamentary strength of the three parties is expected to remain more or less the same.

Additionally, Beijing comes in as a multiplier of sorts because it has been taking an active interest in keeping the two factions of the Nepal Communist Party together so that the government survives. However, the bitterness between the factions seems to have reached its zenith and no compromise is on sight. For India, given its ties with Prachanda, it would be wanting a government with Prachanda to be formed so that China’s hold on Nepal comes down a bit. Currently, India has kept itself aloof from Nepal’s internal politics but the Indian government has been extending strategic aid to the nation from time to time. In a sense India knows that it cannot compete with the kind of investment China has made over Nepal, but with a regime change, it would be India that would be the happier side. India has very close ties with Prachanda and if he manages to sweep power from Oli, India and Nepal would once again share a common agenda. India already has maintained its ties with Bhutan and with Nepal too in its favour, it would enjoy a larger say in the Himalayan belt.

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