PM Oli Wields Immense Power
Prime Minister KP Sharma has secured a three-fourths majority in the House of Representatives, making him the most powerful premier in the history of Nepal’s democratic polity. PM Oli garnered 208 votes in the 275-member House. Barring the Nepali Congress lawmakers and an independent, the lawmakers of four political parties and three independent lawmakers voted in favour of Oli. His own party, the CPN-UML, coalition partners, the CPN- Maoist Centre and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum (SSF) and the Madhesh-centric party, the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, and three independent lawmakers voted for him in the trust vote. However, 60 out of 63 lawmakers of the Nepali Congress, voted against him while three of its lawmakers remained absent on the voting day. One independent lawmaker abstained himself from the voting. A total of six other lawmakers could not cast their votes.
The total number of trust vote has rendered Oli a powerful prime minister having a capacity to make any political decision of his liking that would have generally required only a two-thirds majority.
Besides having an impressive presence in the federal parliament, Oli’s party, the CPN-UML and the coalition partners, Maoist Centre and SSF have dominated politics in all provinces as these parties have formed the government in all seven federal provinces. The UML has its government in four provinces, the Maoist Centre has its governments in two provinces while SSF has government in Province 2. The UML and MC have also dominated the local units of governance across the country as majority of these units have been represented by the UML and MC leaders.
The domination at the local, provincial and central level governments has enabled the UML-MC alliance to get their party functionaries elected at the important constitutional bodies. The alliance is already successful in getting its functionaries or supporter elected in the post of House Speaker and National Assembly chairman unopposed while the alliance almost certain to elect the incumbent President for the next five-year term in the office.
The Oli government is in the comfort zone from where it can find it easy to make amendments to the constitution. It can do so by taking into confidence its supporters such as the Maoist Centre, SSF and RJP in the House. The Nepali Congress, the second largest party, won’t be able to stop the ruling coalition from undertaking any political decisions that might have lasting impact on the nation’s politics. The Congress can not even register any motion or resolutions, as it lacked required one-fourth members in the 275-member parliament. At the maximum, the NC can issue warnings or criticise the ruling alliance for taking decisions that it thinks would go against its own or the nation’s interests. The NC that had remained at the forefront of almost all political struggles and changes taking place in the nation throughout the nation’s political history, has never felt so helpless as it must have done now.
Oli, who gained immense popularity for his nationalist stand, now wields immense political power after he successfully roped in the SSF and RJP-N for supporting his government. Even before the current government secured three-fourths of the House vote, Prime Minister Oli-led Left Alliance government had enjoyed a comfortable majority that enabled the government to bring several powerful institutions, such as anti-money laundering body and central investigation bureau, under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office. If the media reports are any indication to go by, the government is now in the mood to bring many powerful public institutions under the ambit of PMO.
The government can even prevail over constitutional bodies, while making all kinds of political and other appointments, if it so wishes. Constitutionally, the Left Alliance is now able to make whatever changes they want to bring in the constitution and cause impacts on the functioning of the constitutional bodies. For example, they can well initiate impeachment motion any chief of a constitutional body and successfully get results from such moves.
Likewise, the government can effect changes as per the demands of the two of its current allies, the SSF and RJP-N. These two parties appear to have supported Oli government in the hope that the government would amend the constitution to address their demands. During his first tenure as the Prime Minister in 2015-2016, Prime Minister Oli had shown his deep dislike for amending the constitution as per the demand of the Madhesi parties. The PM had then termed the Madhesi demands as anti-national. Now, the PM is said to have been positive towards the demands of two parties regarding the amendments in constitution.
However, despite having an immense ability to cause changes in the nation’s political landscape, many do believe that the government should utilise such an immense power in bringing stability, prosperity and developments in the country that has passed through several difficulties causing a protracted political instability and transition. The stable government at the centre and in provinces certainly helps build conducive environment and confidence among investors to undertake development projects. In the meantime, it is expected that the Left Alliance government would now move towards delivering the promises they had made to the voters and the nation during the election time.
The main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, has criticised the Oli-led government’s craving to gain the three-fourths majority in the House. The Congress leadership suspected that the Left Alliance government might try to become powerful absolutely and move towards overly dominating or undermining the constitutional institutions thus undermining democratic principles as enshrined in the constitution. However, Prime Minister Oli had tried to dispel the opposition’s suspicion stating that his party would not undermine democratic principles and he would act as the Prime Minister of the country not merely of a party or the Left Alliance and would guide his government to achieve the three goals- stability, prosperity and development.
The Oli-led government must dispel such suspicions by working in the best interest of the people and the nation and undertaking works so that it can fulfill the promises it had made to the people. Any engagement in the moves to consolidate power by undermining democratic institutions only raises the level of suspicion against the government. The three-fourths majority must be utilised for achieving political stability, development and prosperity in the nation. Once the alliance becomes successful in achieving these goals, the people will go on favouring Oli’s leadership in the future too.