Oli-Deuba Partnership : A Natural Alliance for an Unnatural Crisis

Having grown tired of Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s power politics and the constant maneuvering for a ‘magic’ number in parliamentary politics, the chiefs of the two major parties in the country, KP Sharma Oli and Sher Bahadur Deuba, have sketched a new roadmap aimed at ensuring political stability at least until the next general election. In a rare display of parliamentary partnership, the two largest parties in the Parliament have agreed to form a government, though the formal agreement is yet to be made public officially. 

According to the agreement, the two parties will alternate leadership of the government between Oli and Deuba over a three-year period. Oli will serve as Prime Minister for the initial half of the tenure, while Deuba will lead for the remaining period until the next general election. Ministries in the federal government will be equally divided, and the positions of chief ministers in the provinces will also be equally shared. Both the parties have also agreed to amend the constitution, especially on the electoral system though it is not an easy job.  

As per the agreement, the Nepali Congress has given a vote of confidence to the Chief Minister of Madhes Province from the CK Raut-led Janamat Party has joined the government there. In other provinces, UML ministers have resigned to facilitate the formation of new governments. Following the power-sharing agreement in the federal government, both the parties have endorsed the deal in their respective central meetings. Leaders of both parties are committed to implementing the agreement sincerely, despite facing various conspiracies and pressures from different quarters. This time, people have given both the parties the benefit of the doubt, overlooking the past.  

On July 12, Prime Minister Dahal is set to seek a vote of confidence in the parliament, though odds are stacked against him. Despite this, Dahal’s decision to face the parliament should be respected as a constitutional right of any Prime Minister. If Dahal had morality, he should have resigned immediately after the CPN-UML withdrew support to him. Shocked and traumatized by the Oli-Deuba alliance formed to sideline him, Dahal will again present himself as a ‘revolutionary’ and ‘progressive’ leader in revenge and might call movements from different fronts. This has been a hallmark of Dahal, who has made compromises with all parties and foreign powers to save his government. Whenever he quits government, he appears as a rebel, but such politics doesn’t work these days. While his next steps remain uncertain, he is likely to be relegated to a weaker position as the opposition leader, marking a turning point in the Maoist party’s decline.

Dahal’s failure to garner a trust vote means UML Chair Oli will become the Prime Minister of Nepal under Article 76 (2) of the Constitution. Some argue that Oli cannot be appointed Prime Minister under the same article again, but the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that the same article can be invoked multiple times if there is a possibility of government formation. Ultimately, it depends on the President under which article he calls upon the parties to form the next government. 

Let the law take its own course.

The major concerns now are political stability and the continuation of developmental works initiated during Oli’s second premiership from 15 Feb 2018 to 13 May 2021. As Oli prepares to become PM for the third time, a sense of hope has spread across the nation. Among Nepal’s contemporary politicians, Oli stands out as a leader with a vision and conviction, having earned the trust of the people. Therefore, the agreement between the two major parties to share power and have Oli lead the government has been seen as a beacon of hope as Nepali people are fed up with deceptive politics.

In the last parliamentary election, no party secured a majority to form the government, leading the third party to control the power dynamics with the so-called magic number. The leader of the third party, Dahal, alternately and deceptively led the government with support from the first and the second largest parties. However, his political maneuvering has come to an end, and he has now returned to the sidelines as a frail leader. Reflecting on this, his former colleague and now leader of a fringe party, Baburam Bhattarai, expressed his satisfaction thus: “You can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Some have speculated that external powers, particularly Western ones, played a role in uniting the two major parties, but these claims are unfounded and baseless. Certain intellectuals often suspect external interference in significant domestic developments, but this is merely a form of self-satisfaction. Neither neighboring countries nor Western nations such as the US contributed to bringing the two parties together. It was Oli and Deuba, who decided to sideline Dahal’s messy and opportunistic politics from within the domestic political landscape.

Foreign interference in Nepal’s internal affairs has significantly diminished compared to the past. Ambassadors from neighboring countries in Kathmandu have maintained diplomatic decorum, engaging with all stakeholders equally. However, political inconsistencies have negatively impacted diplomatic relations. With Oli likely to become the next PM, this temporary strain on diplomatic relations is expected to end. The government formed by the two major parties will be stronger and more stable, fostering harmonious relations with both neighboring and powerful countries while prioritizing Nepal’s national interests.

The new government will address the genuine concerns of India and China, but will also firmly warn them against any interference in Nepal’s domestic affairs. Oli’s administration will maintain a balanced foreign policy, ensuring that Nepal’s sovereignty and national interests remain paramount. Strengthening ties with both India and China, the government will work towards mutual cooperation, economic development and regional stability. Additionally, Oli’s leadership is anticipated to bring renewed focus to developmental projects and economic initiatives initiated during his previous terms. This will not only help boost domestic growth but also enhance Nepal’s strategic partnerships with neighboring countries and international allies.

But, this power alliance of Nepali Congress and CPN UML should not be limited only in form but in substance too. Cornering the CPN (Maoist Center) or Dahal shouldn’t be the sole goal of the alliance, it should inject hope and that should be seen in action, for action speaks louder than words.

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