Vote of confidence for PM Oli: All eyes on Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is trying to bring political parties to his favor in the vote of confidence that he is seeking from Parliament whose session starts on May 10.  On Wednesday, he reached out to the main opposition Nepali Congress, which has flatly refused to vote in his favor. CPN (Maoist Center) has pulled its support and decided to vote against Oli.  Even the Madhav Nepal faction inside Oli’s party is mulling mass resignation of its lawmakers before May 10. Every other political party seems to have a plan of its own.

Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, which can be decisive in sustaining this coalition or making the new one in its place, appears to be confused, divided, making a Faustian bargain and in Hamletian dilemma.

Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato faction has been able to exact the release of around 120 cadres involved in 2015 Madhesh movement who were imprisoned on various charges.

Keshav Jha, a JSPN leader close to the Thakur-Mahato faction, said that the party will come out with a formal resolution about their move for May 10 after the meeting to be organized in a couple of days. “We have not decided our move yet. Though the two sides appear to be in conflict from outside, the party will come out with a unanimous decision agreeable to all,” he said.

Without mentioning what that unanimous stand will be he said the party will take a single stand and all others will follow that stand.

Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal appears to be confused, divided, making a Faustian bargain and in Hamletian dilemma.

With 32 seats in federal parliament, JSPN is a kingmaker in the current political scenario. However, it is a divided house regarding whether to support PM Oli or not. While the Mahantha Thakur- Rajendra Mahato faction has supported Oli, Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai look bent on unseating Oli from power at any cost.

Both factions are trying to bring the lawmakers into their respective folds. On May 4, Thakur-Mahato faction started collecting signatures of lawmakers close to them. The Yadav-Bhattarai faction had done the same on April 27. Apparently, the two factions want to use the collected signatures against each other including to support or unseat Oli. 

However, if all of the JSPN lawmakers stand against KP Oli, there is a chance that the opposition parties can form a government together. But JSPN itself appears to be on the verge of a split. At a meeting between Madhav Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and Upendra Yadav on Wednesday (May 5), Yadav gave assurance that they will make 25 lawmakers ready from their side to form a new government. 

Biswadeep Pandey, a JSPN leader close to the Yadav-Bhattarai faction, said the party always stands against a regressive force such as Oli and they will not at all vote in favor of Oli. “We will vote against Oli and put our efforts to form an alternative government,” he said. 

Pandey also sees the possibility of a party split if two factions fail to reach a common ground. “We can’t be in favor of the regressive force. We will make efforts to keep the unity intact until the last hour. If that does not happen, the party will split.”

Analysts who have been following Madhesh politics for long say that internal dispute has pushed JSPN to the state of dilemma. Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato are cozying up to Oli to find the solution to administrative trials their cadres have been subjected to, said Tula Narayan Shah, political analyst. Recent activities of the JSPN show they are heading towards a split, he said. “There is no unanimity between the JSPN leaders on how to deal with KP Oli, which has led to the situation of impasse today,” he said. 

“Yes, the situation inside JSPN reflects that the party is heading towards a split,” rejoined Chandra Kishore Jha, another columnist and political analyst.

Jha, however, argues that very unity in JSPN was unnatural. “The unification was not the result of extensive discussion, it came out all of a sudden, overnight,” he said.

In terms of ideologies, viewpoints and differences they stand where they were before Samajbadi Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal merged into a single entity of JSPN in April 2020, he said. “That’s the root cause of differences between two factions regarding whether to oust Oli or support him.”