Floor test for PM Oli: Thakur-Mahato faction demonstrate unparliamentary character*

Nishan Khatiwada

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Political analysts and commentators have termed the decision of the Mahanta Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction of the Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal to remain neutral as a strategic move and a bargaining policy.

The decision has courted fresh controversies also because the 2010 Supreme Court verdict does not allow a party to remain neutral. Moreover, JSPN still remains divided on the issue.

On Sunday morning, both Mahato and Thakur informed Prime Minister Oli that they would not be able to give the vote of confidence to him and will remain neutral instead.

Talking to Nepal Live after meeting with the prime minister, Mahato said, “We informed that we will not be able to give the vote of confidence to the incumbent government.” He also informed some of the issues they raised are yet to be addressed by the government making them unable to give the vote of confidence. “As all the demands are not addressed and we have to save the party unity, we are remaining neutral,” he added.

On Sunday morning, the two JSPN leaders met Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba. Both the leaders informed Deuba that they would remain neutral, citing the same reason; “save party unity, some demands still remain unaddressed.”

CPN UML, in total, has 121 lawmakers but the Nepal faction has given a 24-hour ultimatum to the PM to consider their demands or they will resign en masse. To get a vote of confidence, Oli needs 136 votes. NC with 61 seats and Maoist Center with 49 seats have already decided not to vote in favor of Oli. JSPN, considered as the kingmaker, was divided with Yadav-Bhattarai faction standing against Oli.

Now, the decision of the other faction to remain neutral has pushed PM Oli to a clear minority. In case Nepal faction leaders resign en masse, Maoist Center, Nepali Congress, and Yadav-Bhattarai faction of JSPN can build an alliance to form the new government.

Political analysts and commentators term the decision to remain neutral as a strategic move and a bargaining policy.

Can any political party stand neutral in a vote of confidence? Legal precedent says no. In 2010, the Supreme Court had issued a verdict stating that the people’s representatives elected by the people cannot stay neutral. Rules of Procedures of the House, however, do not have a clear provision regarding this.

Prakash Rimal, former editor of The Himalayan Times and political analyst, defined the Thakur-Mahato faction’s decision to remain neutral as a bargaining chip to exact more concessions from Deuba and Oli. Given that they have the right to stay neutral that still would not be the right decision because the House is seeking a resolution now, he said.

“It should come with a resolution because the House is devoid of businesses after the reinstatement. In such a situation, the lawmakers have to vote either in favor of Oli or against him to find out the solution,” Rimal said.

According to him, remaining neutral is an irresponsible and unpolitical move. JSPN is a political force with a commitment for parliamentary system, constitutionality and political commitment, he said.

“How will JSPN justify the decision of standing neutral in such a critical moment of politics?,” Rimal asked.

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