Kathmandu: Nepali Congress, the largest force in parliament, finds itself in a strange self-inflicted predicament: It overwhelmingly supported the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and with that decision it lost the space of opposition in parliament in real sense but it still wants to project itself as the opposition in parliament.
On January 10, as Prime Minister Dahal was facing a floor test, Congress, with the decision of its execution committee, decided to give a vote of confidence to Dahal. With support from Congress, Dahal secured 268 votes.
After 12 days, Congress finds itself in an odd situation. It cannot claim the opposition status as the party has institutionally supported Dahal. It does not seem willing to concede the space of opposition to Rastriya Janamorcha and Nepal Workers Peasants Party–the only two parties which did not vote in favor of Dahal.
On Sunday, Dr Shekhar Koirala regretted the January 10 decision in a party meeting. He said that Congress should stand as a credible opposition in the parliament. “We made a mistake by giving a vote of confidence to the prime minister. I had proposed in the executive committee meeting that we should stand neutral. But this was not listened to,” he said. “We were obliged to follow the decision of the majority but we should not have given a vote of confidence.”
This was in sharp contrast to the January 10 decision of the party.
Yet another incident reveals the predicament of Nepali Congress. On January 13, it wrote a letter to the MP Facility Management Branch of House of Representatives enquiring about the perks and allowances the opposition party and its leader are entitled to. According to an official at the parliament secretariat, Congress in the letter did not demand opposition status for the party but only enquired about the perks and allowances for opposition party and its leader.
To the relief of the party, the parliament secretariat has given Nepali Congress the status of opposition party, more than what the party had asked for in its January 13 letter. It has recognized party president Sher Bahadur Deuba as the leader of the opposition party.
With this Nepali Congress has acquired the identity of the opposition party but many are still asking how a party that gives vote of confidence to the government still remains an opposition.