With the beginning of the Nepali New Year 2078, the possibility of political polarization seems to have increased. The Congress, which has recently taken the initiative to change the government, has no choice but to accept the leadership of the JSP if it does not form a government under its leadership.
Speaking at a press conference in Pokhara on 30th Chaita, Congress leader Shekhar Koirala said, “The Maoists will not withdraw their support for the formation of a new government and the Congress does not have enough numbers.” Now fulfilling JSP’s demand and agreeing with them.’
“Even before this, in the Congress-led, UCPN (M) had tabled a demand for JSP in the parliament,” Koirala said. The issue of Resham Chaudhary, the issue of language and citizenship in the amendment of the constitution and the issue of the province will be discussed and the way will be worked out.
Looking at the recent situation, all the parties, including the UML’s Nepal-Khanal group, have started looking for an alternative to the Oli government. In their argument, Oli’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives on 5th Push is a ‘regression’. The parties are under pressure to form a new government not only as an alternative to the Oli government before the budget to be brought by the federal government on 15th Jetha.
Prime Minister Oli has already announced an increase in social security allowances in this year’s budget. The joint election announcement of the UML and the UCPN (M) states that the social security allowance will be increased to Rs 5,000. In last year’s budgets, Finance Minister Dr. Yuvaraj Khatiwada’s disagreement such allowance could not be increased. The last time Manmohan Adhikari’s government announced social security allowance in 2051 BS. The UML’s strongest foundation among the masses so far is the social security allowance introduced during Adhikari’s tenure.
On the other hand, other parties are also afraid that the government will launch a popular program through the upcoming budget. Especially with the upcoming election in mind, the government is trying to bring a budget that will make it easier for the UML take to the people. Bringing the budget in this way is likely to create more public opinion in favor of Oli.
The UML cadres are equally likely to go among the people saying that they have not been able to bring the budget as per the wishes of the people as they are running the government in collaboration with the Maoists. Going forward in this way, the message will go as Oli wants to go to the polls by dissolving the House of Representatives as he needs a new mandate to work on behalf of the people. In such a situation, it will be easy to clear the propaganda against Oli. First of all, Oli is now trying to prove his 5th Push step is right. For this, he does not seem to be in a position to facilitate the Congress and the Maoists to seek an alternative to the government easily. On the other hand, Oli seems to be thinking of returning the UML leaders in the Nepal-Khanal group to the main party with the help of power. As a prime minister, Oli seems to be trying to do the following.
1. Damage assessment:
It is estimated that about 10 percent of the cadres from the former UML will leave if the Nepal-Khanal group opens a new party. This group, which has been building parallel organizations all over Nepal, is now building parallel organizations even among the people’s organizations. At present, the Oli faction understands that the formation of a parallel committee is only a matter of negotiating with the main party. However, the Oli faction seems to be of the view that some of the leaders in the parallel committee will return to their homes in case of party split.
The Nepal-Khanal faction has now been raised by UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Dahal has been giving statements with the thought of irritating Oli. He instructed the cadres to be flexible towards the Nepal-Khanal faction in Butwal. Recently, he made public that the 19-page proposal he had submitted to the NCP (NCP) Secretariat was not only his but also that of Nepal, Khanal and Gautam.
Earlier, UML leader Bamdev Gautam had said that the party was divided due to Prachanda’s refusal on the other hand Oli is ready to withdraw his proposal and save the party unity. On the morning of 4th Push, Oli reached Dahal’s residence and asked him to withdraw the proposal. Dahal has worked to throw in complication to the Nepal-Khanal faction by saying that the proposal, which is considered as the basis of the NCP split, is not only his. This means that Dahal’s wish seems to be that the UML should not move forward in a unified way. On the other hand, Oli is also thinking of harming the Maoists as much as possible. While Dahal if the Nepal-Khanal group has left the UML is ready to welcome with red carpet, while Oli led UML seems to be recruiting leaders and cadres from the UCPN (Maoist).
Oli has managed the leaders including Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal who joined UML in the first phase. At present, the Nepal-Khanal group has been urging Oli to step back from the management of leaders like Badal. This means that leaders like Badal may return to the Maoists if Oli does not manage. In that case, Dahal benefits more than Oli. Therefore, the current goal of the leaders in the Nepal-Khanal group seems to be to benefit Dahal as much as possible.
In such a situation, the Oli faction has started assessing the damage caused by Nepal and Khanal group within the UML. Due to his health, Khanal is less active in politics. As a result, Khanal group’s leaders are in a dilemma whether to side with Nepal or return to Oli’s side. In all respects, the main party is of the view that the UCPN (M) can compensate for the 10 percent loss caused by Nepal-Khanal group. With the inclusion of former Maoist combatants, the number of capable young generation in the party is likely to increase. The loss of all these works carried out by Oli will be more for the Dahal side.
2. Improving international relations:
Maoist Chairman Dahal has been the most terrified in recent times. One of the reasons for this is the unfavorable international situation. Meanwhile, Karin Landgren, a participant in Nepal’s peace process, has shaken the international community over the use of child armies in the Maoist war. She wrote in an article in The Diplomat on March 26, 2021 that the Maoists had used 4,500 children as combatants.
Maoist Chairman Dahal now has the greatest fear of the international community. The United Nations has set up a commission of inquiry into the government’s human rights abuses to quell Sri Lanka’s civil war. In the case of Nepal, it cannot be said that a similar commission will not be formed. Dahal seems to be the biggest culprit in human rights violations during the Maoist war. In the case of Kotbara in Kalikot, the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is also to blame.
Due to the good relations with the international community, especially the United States, the issue of using child militants to save Deuba can be ruled out. Moreover, Lenin Banjade, a former Maoist fighter, has already internationalized the issue. He has been claiming that he was used by the Maoists as a child soldier in the war.
Dahal’s relation with the United States and China is not very good at the moment. The United States is dissatisfied with Dahal’s role in the MCC. Due to Dahal, former Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara and current Speaker Agni Sapkota have not tabled the MCC proposal in the House of Representatives. Addressing the nation on Wednesday, the first day of the New Year, Prime Minister Oli expressed dissatisfaction over the struck of the MCC decision in Parliament due to Speaker Sapkota.
Prime Minister Oli said the MCC was a continuation of the previous government’s program. ‘The MCC agreement was reached when the Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist were in government. We have tabled it in the parliament; we are demanding to present the decision. Others do not have the constitutional right not to present the decision after the government has presented it, it has to be presented. It cannot be presented here ‘, he said.
The Prime Minister seems to be trying to achieve two goals on the issue of MCC. The first is to further strain the Maoists’ relationship with the international community. The second is to alert the Nepali Congress, which is seeking an alternative to the government in collaboration with the Maoists. Nepali Congress Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki had signed the MCC agreement. The Maoist and Congress were the partner at the time of agreement. After leaving the government, UCPN (M) Chairman Dahal himself started opposing the MCC. He described the MCC agreement as the most important achievement of the then government. The Maoists’ trust in the United States is widening due to MCC protests. They are on their way to filling this gap with the help of China. However, the Chinese seem to have done more during the Oli government than during the Maoist government under Dahal. As a result, even the Chinese are not in a position to support Dahal. For them, Oli has no choice but to choose between the worst and the worst.
After the restoration of the House of Representatives by the Supreme Court, Dahal had said that he would form a comfortable government for India. Dahal’s idea came at a time when the Indian establishment side was looking for an alternative to Oli. In recent days, even India has not shown any opposition to Oli. Because Prime Minister Oli is preparing to manage the border as per India’s wishes and move ahead by agreeing with India by postponing the Kalapani-Lipulek-Limpiyadhura issue. He has also sent a message to India for this. After Prime Minister Oli began to favor to India, Nepali Congress leader Pradip Giri has blindly praised Oli in Parliament, while Janata Samajwadi Party Chairman Mahanta Thakur has gradually come out openly in favor of Oli.
At present, only the European Union, which looks weak in Nepal, is looking for an alternative to Oli. Its influence is growing in the courts, human rights organizations, non-governmental organizations and the Federation of Nepali Journalists. In the recent election of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, only one member of the Oli faction has won in the 48-member Central Working Committee. Only KC Lamichhane of Province No. 2 has reached to the federation as a Central Member. He had the strong support of Madhesi voters.
Oli is on the path to improving relations with all parties. Even the strained relations with India are now on the way to recovery. Oli’s current focus seems to be on improving international relations. Oli is thinking of making his search for an alternative as the Prime Minister a failure internationally.
3. Government doesn’t change, only: election
A meeting of the Nepali Congress Central Committee on 20th Chaita formally decided to demand the resignation of Prime Minister KP Oli and to take the initiative to form a new government under its leadership. Earlier, there was pressure from within the Congress, including Dahal, to form a government. Leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Gagan Thapa were in favor of not holding this government even for a second. Chairman Deuba was silent saying that the force of change of government has not come to his court now or he has been evading the issue saying that we are the opposition.
Speaking at a rally in Kapilvastu on 22nd Chaita, UCPN-M Chairman Dahal said that the leaders had urged him not to leave Kathmandu. He argued that the love of people of Kapilvastu had lured him to participate in the program despite the request of the leaders to start intensive discussions on the issue of change of government. Chairman Dahal had said that he had the Prime Minister’s card in his pocket. He hurriedly addressed the program and returned to Kathmandu.
Many who listened to Dahal’s speech had predicted that Oli would leave the government immediately. However, as Dahal said, there is no possibility of a change of government. Even the Congress, which has decided to form a government under its leadership, is now focusing only on the arithmetic of the parliament. The Maoists have not been able to decide whether to withdraw their support for Oli. With the withdrawal of support, if another government cannot be formed, elections will have to be held. The Maoists are not in favor of going to the polls now. The Maoists are wondering whether they can form an alliance with any other party, especially the Nepali Congress, from the government to the election. The Maoists do not seem to accept the election easily as they only have the votes to defeat the candidate of the other party and not to win the election.
After the Congress Party Central Working Committee decided to form a government under its own leadership, it started discussions with the UCPN (M) and the JSP on 23rd Chaita. JSP did not immediately decide to hold a discussion within the party. As a result, the new government, which is said to be the alternative of the Prime Minister Oli, is stuck in JSP. On 30th Chaita, JSP leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav reached Deuba’s residence in Budhanilkantha and discussed on the issue of sharing power with the Nepali Congress. They urged the Congress to move a no-confidence motion.
Top leaders of the party had held a discussion on 29th Chaita to take a unanimous decision on power cooperation. During the discussion held at Deuba’s residence, JSP Chairman Mahanta Thakur targeted former Prime Ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Pishpa Kamal Dahal and said your government gave only hollow promises and did nothing for the Madhesi people. He said that the present government is gradually fulfilling our demands and is preparing a list of tasks that cannot be done immediately. In that case, we can’t say anything about supporting you. We will answer you only after discussing in the party meeting. After a long time, the dialogue of the top leadership of the party which started shortly has stopped again. On Sunday, a meeting of top JSP leaders decided to hold regular discussions. After that, the leaders are not able to sit in the discussion. There are two strands on the issue of the power sharing within the party. Federal Council Chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Chairman Upendra Yadav are not in favor of supporting Oli or not joining the government led by him. Another chairman Mahanta Thakur, and senior leader Rajendra Mahato, on the other hand, are considering joining Oli’s government as promised to fulfill their demands by Oli.
On 31st Chaita, Thakur said that he had not reached an agreement with the Nepali Congress while addressing a program organized in Janakpur to exchange New Year’s greetings. Instead, Thakur said he would take the initiative to form a government under his own leadership. ‘The issue of forming a new government is under discussion. Due to the Congress, the process has not been able to move forward. Now it seems that JSP should take the initiative to form a government under its own leadership,’ Thakur said ‘Congress has propagated that JSP stucked the process. If so, what is stopping the Congress from taking the lead?’
Senior leader Mahato said Oli had taken the process forward to address some of his demands. ‘The current government has taken some steps to address our demands. The results have not come yet,’ said Mahato. ‘We have already said that those who fulfill our demands will get our support.’ He said that even if all the parties give assurances, who will implement it will be decisive for JSP. This has also confirmed that Thakur and Mahato within the party are close to Oli.
Oli has assured that he will address the demands raised by JSP if they raised the demands within the three options. Oli has urged Thakur and Mahato not to join the Congress-Maoist alliance government. If they want to join the government, they have put forward the option of participating in the government under their own leadership with the lots of Ministries and not participating in their government as much as possible. The success of Oli’s efforts to prevent JSP from joining the new government seems to have made him more powerful. If the differences over Madhes are reduced, it cannot be said that there will be no cooperation between JSP and Oli during the election.
Continuing his own government is Oli’s first attempt. In case he leaves the government, he is equally likely to move Thakur ahead. A government led by Thakur, including the UML, is another option. Oli is in favor of elections even if this option is not effective. Oli’s desire to go for early elections by convincing the Nepali Congress will finally reaffirm his step of 5th Push.
4. Government’s support or protest is not the issue, plan to strengthen India:
Before the split between the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Center, former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal had played a key role in weakening the government in India’s plan and strengthening India in Nepal to make India-friendly decisions. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda was forced to play a pro-India role due to the activism and initiative of former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
The issue of Indian Army control in the Kalapani area was raised as part of a plan to weaken the government. On this issue, the shrewd Prime Minister KP Oli, using the support of the West, released the Chuchche (New) map contrary to the estimates of Prachanda-Nepal and Khanal. Prime Minister Oli’s move embarrassed the Prachanda-Nepal and Khanal factions. Later, giving less importance to this issue, it was diverted.
At the moment, India seems to be outwardly supporting the Oli-led government and efforts to settle the border issue and the Kalapani-Lipulek-Limpiyadhura issue. For this, it is clear that it has adopted a strategy of using the Nepali Congress, the CPN-Maoist Center, the JSP and King and the Hinduists together.
Former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal are raising against the government while Hinduists including Nepali Congress, JSP and King are supporting to support Oli. The current situation is as if there is no opposition in the country. Playing on Nepal’s internal problems and differences, India seems to be actively pursuing a two-pronged policy to keep Nepal under its control.
Looking at the recent developments and the constant expressions of the Prime Minister, it does not seem that the Prime Minister has moved forward according to his plans and policies. It seems that the Prime Minister has been forced to do a lot of things against his own will as he has moved forward while considering his arrogant behavior and self-interest in power. This order is increasing. If we do not act in time to stop this, it is clear that Nepal will become an anti-China base and the country will move towards extreme instability.