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Hurdles To A New Government

Issue December 2017

Hurdles To A New Government

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


No hurdles to form a new government following the constitution after the Election Commission submits the valid results of the federal House of Representatives and provincial assemblies elections to the president but the new prime minister has to get the confidence vote from the parliament means the House of Representatives within 30 days of forming the government. Here lies the hurdle after the sitting lame-duck Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba refused to give in to amend the National Assembly Election Ordinance submitted to the president to make it acceptable to CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist-Center but he failed to get the assent of the president on it provoking the charge of KP Oli for prolonging the stay-on in power. KP Oli believes that the National Assembly Election Ordinance goes against the constitution while pro-NC party constitutional lawyers say it does not. Most of the leaders of fringe political parties have the political death after the federal and provincial elections. Deuba has once again demonstrated that he was incompetent.


Speaking to the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called “antar-sambad” on December 17, 2017, constitutional expert Kashi Raj Dahal said after the Election Commission (EC) submitting the results of the federal and provincial elections to the president making sure at least one-third representation of women, and publishing them in the Nepal gazette, a new government could be formed following the Articles such as 76, 84 and 86 of the Constitution in totality.


The elections results need to have at least one-third elected women out of the total elected House of Representatives. Only a few percent of women got directly elected to the House of Representatives. So, the EC has to make sure that political parties have sufficient number of women to be elected to the House of Representatives in the proportional elections. Then only the election results will be valid, and the president will accept them following the constitution.


After the election results are formally published in the Nepal Gazette, then the president could appoint any person claiming to have the majority in the House of Representatives, and form a government following the Article 76 (1) that states, “The President shall appoint the leader of a parliamentary party that commands majority in the House of Representatives as the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers shall be constituted under his or her chairpersonship.”  So, even in the absence of National Assembly, a government could be formed after the election results.


However, none of the political parties has an absolute majority; the most likely case is the president will appoint a person following the Article 76 (2) that states, “In cases where no party has a clear majority in the House of Representatives under clause (1), the President shall appoint as the Prime Minister a member of the House of Representatives who can command majority with the support of two or more parties representing to the House of Representatives.”


However, the prime minister so made has to secure the confidence vote in the House of Representatives following the Article 76 (4) that states, “The Prime Minister appointed under clause (2) or (3) shall obtain a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives no later than thirty days after the date of such appointment.”


The formation of a new government has to be done within 35 days of the declaration of the results of the elections following the Article 76 (8) that states, “Procedures on the appointment of the Prime Minister under this Article must be completed no later than thirty five days after the date of declaration of the final results of election to the House of Representatives held under this Constitution or the date on which the office of the Prime Minister has fallen vacant.”


The prime minister needs to limit a number of cabinet members to 25 including the prime minister following the Article 76 (9) that states, “The President shall, on recommendation of the Prime Minister, constitute the Council of Ministers comprising a maximum of twenty five Ministers including the Prime Minister, in accordance with the inclusive principle, from amongst the members of the Federal Parliament. Explanation: For the purposes of this Article, "Minister" means a Deputy Prime Minister, Minister, Minister of State and Assistant Minister.”


Any person appointed as a prime minister will have at least two years to work without the fear of getting out of office as the Article 100 (4) that states, “One-fourth of the total number of the then members of the House of Representatives may table a motion of no-confidence in writing that the House has no confidence in the Prime Minister. Provided that a motion of no confidence shall not be tabled until the first two years after the appointment of the Prime Minister and until another one year after the date of failure of the motion of no confidence once tabled.” So, this provision made in the constitution has effectively ended the tradition of changing a prime minister every nine months. A stable government will be ensured the folks have so longed for.


Prime Minister Deuba has demanded the president put her assent on the National Assemble Election Ordinance before he could leave office. Talking to Chairman of CPN-Maoist-Center Prachanda at his Baluwatar official residence on December 16, 2017, Deuba said that he would immediately resigned after the National Assembly Election Ordinance held at the office of the President is cleared off, according to the news on “gorkhapatra” on December 17, 2017.


The president has not put her assent on the National Assembly Election Ordinance and has been pending at her office for the last two months, as CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist-Center have objected to the ordinance. The president has asked Prime Minister Deuba to make the ordinance acceptable to the two major political parties, too.


The parliament could not pass the Bill on National Assembly Election because CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist-Center could not agree on it. Then, Prime Minister Deuba submitted it as an ordinance to the President after the parliament got dissolved for the federal and provincial elections but the president has held it as it is not a consensus document.


Deuba also has consulted with the constitutional lawyers on December 16, 2017 concerning the National Assembly Election Ordinance. The partisan lawyers have said that the president has been holding the ordinance unconstitutionally, according to the news on “gorkhapatra” on December 17, 2017.


However, Article 114 (1) says, “If, at any time, except when both Houses of the Federal Parliament are in session, circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action, the President may, on recommendation of the Council of Ministers, promulgate an Ordinance.” This Article has clearly stated that the president could not only hold on the ordinance but also even reject it.


Speaking to the media persons representing “Reporters’ Club” at his private Balkot residence in Bhaktapur on December 16, 2017, chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli said that the caretaker government has been making mockery of democracy trying to lengthen its life and making various appointments even after the election results are out, according to the news on “gorkhapatra” on December 17, 2017. Oli also said that the provision made in the ordinance for the elections to the National Assembly went against the constitution, and the president could not put her assent on it.


Most of the leaders of small political parties that either could not have anyone directly elected to the House of Representatives or their parties could not cross the threshold of getting at least three percent of the proportional representation votes have been politically dead, and also their political parties have been practically died and their elected representatives would not represent the parties rather would be independent representatives to the House of Representatives.


Previously, leaders of small political parties having representations in the parliament have been playing a role of trump cards for any prime minister, and making use of their minor representation for getting the position of deputy prime ministers.


For example, Naya Shakti party, all the Rastriya Prajantra Parties (RPPs), Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party (NWPP), Jana Morcha, and CPN-ML have lost their existence. Their candidates elected to the House of Representatives would work as independent lawmakers. They would not represent their political parties.


Coordinator of Naya Shakti party Dr Baburam Bhattarai had been onetime influential Maoist leader and even had an opportunity of being the prime minister but he left the party only to set up a new party fantastically overestimating his capability of organizing a new party. He even boasted that his party would be in power in 2018 but everybody has seen what has happened to his party and him, too. He had hard time to get even the ticket for running for the Houses of Representatives at his previous constituency. His party has lost existence after the federal and provincial elections.


Chairman of RPP Kamal Thapa had been the deputy prime minister almost in all the previous cabinets, and he is deputy prime minister even in the current caretaker government but he will be denied holding any elected ministerial office in the government for the coming five years, as the constitution bar anybody failing to get elected to the parliament from holding any position of minister.


Chitra Bahadur KC of Jana Morcha, and CP Mainali of CPN-ML were too the deputy prime ministers in the cabinet of KP Oli in 2016. Both of them have lost the elections and their parties could not cross the threshold of winning at least three percent of the proportional representation votes. They could join either the Left Alliance or the Democratic Alliance or adopt the ascetic life and set off for the holy place called “Kashi” in India where most of the real Hindus make the last pilgrimage before going to heaven.


Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar has been more practical than other political leaders of minor parties. He joined the Deuba party before the federal and provincial elections knowing that his party could not cross the threshold set for being a national party, and he himself had a doubt about winning the election without the support of NC means Deuba party. So, he joined the Deuba party just to save from being the political deadwood.


Now, the one-time great leader of NWPP Narayan Man Bijuckchhe has taken the retirement from the politics not running for any elected positions in the federal and provincial elections. Probably, his age did not permit him to be active in the politics. So, he must have thought it is better to take the retirement from the political life, and enjoy the rest of life without any politics.


Whenever Deuba reached the position of power, he led the NC party to ruin. He turned over the power to the opposition. He did surrender the power to the then king in 2002, and to the Left Alliance in 2017.


Deuba’s predecessor Sushil Koirala had a comfortable majority in the parliament; in fact it won the first position in the second election to the Constitutional Assembly. After the untimely demise of Sushil Koirala, Deuba became the NC president. Then, Deuba became the prime minister with the support of CPN-Maoist-Center. He could not keep the alliance between his party and the Maoist-Center, and let the Maoists walk away from his party and joined CPN-UML on the eve of the federal and provincial elections.


Now, Deuba is turning over the power to the Left Alliance. His election strategy has been totally failure. Any politician with a little bit of sense of ethic would have immediately quit the party position and the position in the government, too after the debacle in the elections but he has been sticking to the party position and trying to lengthening his stay in government, too. He claimed that he was the leader of the democratic alliance but he probably forgot what the democracy means. Whatever he has been doing now totally goes against the democratic values and norms.


If Deuba were really a democratic-minded leader then he needed to withdraw the National Assembly Election Ordinance from the office of the President, and make it acceptable to the Left Alliance rather than consulting with the so-called constitutional experts that obviously did not take troubles to go through the constitution rather told Deuba whatever Deuba wanted to listen to.


Deuba gave in to the grand design of the then king, and dissolved the parliament provoking the wrath of his mentor and party-president Girija Prasad Koirala that fired Deuba even from the party membership in 2002. Deuba set up a new party called NC-democratic. Obviously, Deuba loved the word “democracy” without properly honoring the meaning of it.


Then, Deuba went to the palace asking the king for postponing the scheduled elections to the parliament. The king instead of following the recommendation of the prime minister as the king should following the constitution rather fired Deuba: the elected prime minister unceremoniously, and took over the administration scrapping the constitution. Thus, Deuba not only ruined his party but also the democratic setup.


Then, Deuba landed in the corruption charges. The then kings have treated the NC leaders as the foes even though the NC has been taking the monarchy in its shoulder all the time. The king put Deuba and his colleague Prakash Man Singh to jail for corruption, and the king enjoyed the absolute power thanks to Deuba.


Only the people’s movement in 2006 saved Deuba and his colleague from the jail life. However, Deuba apparently has not learned any lessons from his past mistakes, and once again led his party to ruin. Deuba needs to quit the party position in favor of the most competent young generation leader to save the party from any possible damages in the future.


December 17, 2017

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