Friday, March 1, 2024

UML's exit from government

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Finally PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal has shown coalition partner UML the exit door. UML has decided to quit the government as well as withdraw its support.

UML’s abrupt volte-face decision must have surprised many. Earlier, it had decided to hang onto power till elections to the president are over, irrespective of PM Dahal switching alliances. The party’s decision to quit has been triggered by unceremonious last minute cancellation, at the behest of PM Dahal, of a foreign trip by its minister for foreign affairs to Geneva to attend a UN meeting.

UML’s abrupt exit is nothing more than an aftershock of PM Dahal’s changing stand plus decision to support NC candidate Ram Chandra Paudel. In the days ahead, more political jolts and aftershocks are expected. This could include en masse resignations by UML political appointees, wild cat strikes by trade unions and student unions, stalling of parliamentary proceedings and so on.     

With the exit of three major coalition partners, namely, UML, RPP and RSP, PM Dahal is now forced to seek fresh vote of confidence. There is now a debate on whether he should or should not seek parliamentary test. If it is yes, should it be done before or after the president’s elections?

Back to square one

Since the last elections, we have been occupied for four months with issues like these. Meanwhile, PM Dahal has not failed to entertain us chanting the mantra of sushasan, bikas and samajik suraxa. His determination to do something “unique” or naya kehi garne huti in Nepali during his third term is unfailing. So far the only unique thing he has done is to shift his office from Baluwatar residence to Singhadurbar, the central secretariat. Going by the political events taking place in the country, we will soon see him back to square one.   

Paudel vs. Nemwang

UML’s exit is just a boiling point of the souring of the relationships between PM Dahal and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli. There is now an intense verbal spat between the two – both projecting “holier than thou” attitude. It is similar to the one we witnessed during NCP double’s split in 2018-19. Borrowing a phrase from economics, ceteris paribus, i.e., other things remaining same, the higher the animosity between Dahal and Oli, greater the chances of Paudel winning the elections.

Meanwhile, UML’s die hard supporters are cocksure of Nemwang winning the elections. Their belief rests on secret balloting and possibility of inter-party cross-voting. But what I see is the possibility of vote buying, an extensive and intensive use of money power. With due apology for racist slur, UML honchos may find Nemwang appearing like a president, feeling like a president, thinking like a president and even behaving like a president, however a bahun candidate backed by janajatis is far more preferable to a janajati candidate backed by bahuns.

His determination to do something “unique” or naya kehi garne huti in Nepali during his third term is unfailing. So far the only unique thing he has done is to shift his office from Baluwatar residence to Singhadurbar, the central secretariat.

NC is prepared for another strategic move by UML. Who knows, UML may resort to a last minute withdrawal of Nemwang’s candidacy, giving an unconditional support to Paudel. This will literally take the nerve out of PM Dahal.  

Sinister design in making

Earlier I wrote a piece on The Makune Factor – a carefully carved Oli strategy, which nearly brought havoc inside eight-party alliance. Now, with the revelation by Madhav Kumar Nepal that he declined to accept Oli’s offer simply because it was meant only for half of the president’s tenure. If this is true, the system of bhaagbanda and aalo-paalo has taken its root, right at the top cascading downwards to the bottom. With the same reasoning, one can fairly imagine the type of grip Oli must have had on Madame President. By the way, it is ironic to see off first female president, the day after celebrating UN Women’s Day!

A case pending

Earlier, media reported on the case pending at the Apex Court. Some lawyers have filed a case against president’s elections, pointing at the contradictions between constitutional provisions that guarantee the president’s five-year tenure and the election laws that make mandatory holding of elections one month ahead of the expiry of the tenure. Who knows if this could trigger another round of debate?

Published on 28 February 2023

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