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Nepal-Khanal faction, Janata Samajbadi hold internal meetings a day ahead of Oli’s trust vote

Leaders Of Nepal-Khanal Group Are Mulling Over Resigning As Lawmakers. Janata Samajbadi Has Said It Would Stay Neutral And Is Discussing Its Further Strategy.

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For Nepal’s political parties, Sunday has been a busy day.

The Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhala Nath Khanal faction of the CPN-UML has been holding a meeting of their own, just as the Janata Samajbadi Party too is busy in internal discussions.

Earlier in the day, the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction of the Janata Samajbadi communicated to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli that they won’t support his vote of confidence on May 10 and that it won’t vote against him either. The Thakur-Mahato faction had been in negotiations with Oli for the past few weeks.

They appear to have conveyed to Oli about remaining neutral stems from fears that their move to vote in favour of the confidence motion could prompt a split in the party. The Upendra Yadav–Baburam Bhattarai faction is against supporting Oli and has made its position clear that the incumbent government needs to be unseated.

After their meeting with Oli and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, the six top leaders of the Janata Samajbadi Party are meeting to discuss their further strategy.

The Nepali Congress, the main opposition, is mulling over taking the lead in forming a new government after voting against Oli’s trust motion, with the support of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).

Almost two months after the Supreme Court revived the UML and the Maoist Centre, Oli on May 2 suddenly decided to seek a vote of confidence in the Parliament.

The move prompted the Maoist Centre to withdraw the support it lent Oli back in February 2018. Oli’s decision to go for a floor test put the Nepal-Khanal faction in a dilemma. They were left with two options–either cross the floor during the voting or relinquish their lawmakers’ post before the voting.

The Nepal-Khanal faction claims to have a little over 30 lawmakers on its side. Of them, 12 were elected under proportional representation systems.

Insiders say around 20 lawmakers of the Nepal-Khanal faction could resign.

If they do so, the House strength will come down to 251 from 271, Oli will need 126 votes to pass the floor test.

Since the UML has 121 seats in the lower house, Nepal-Khanal faction lawmakers’ resignation will bring Oli’s number of votes down to 101. He will need 25 votes.

Oli will need the support of the Janata Samajbadi Party, which has 32 seats (two suspended), to win the trust vote. But since the Janata Samajbadi has already communicated about staying neutral, there could be an opportunity for the Congress to lead the government with the backing of the Maoist Centre.

But the two parties also fall short of the magic number.

The Congress has 61 seats (two suspended) and the Maoist Centre has 49 seats, as Chakka Bahadur Lama, who won as an independent member has joined the party. Agni Sapkota won from the Maoist Centre ticket, but now he is the Speaker, so he cannot vote, unless there is a tie.

Together the Congress and the Maoist Centre make 110 votes and they will need 16 seats.

The Janata Samajbadi Party’s two constituents control 16 seats each, as one member each from the constituents is suspended.

The Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha control one each lawmaker.

If the Janata Samambadi does not support the Congress-Maoist Centre alliance, a coalition government is unlikely.

If Oli fails the trust vote and the opposition parties fail to cobble together the required votes to form a new government, the President will allow Oli to lead the government as per Article 76 (3) as the leader of a party that commands the highest number of members in the parliament. He, however, will have to get a vote of confidence within 30 days from his appointment. If the political equations remain the same after Oli loses his Monday’s trust vote, it is unlikely that he would be able to win the vote of confidence 30 days later also. This would ultimately lead to the dissolution of the House.

The country would head for elections.