Political Uncertainties in Nepal

Prime Minister Dahal had to take a vote of confidence under Article 100(2) of the Constitution of Nepal after the NC's withdrawal of support to the then ruling coalition, on March 4, 2024.

4 mins read
Pushpa Kamal Dahal gestures after reaching a power-sharing deal at Balkot, Nepal, December 25, 2022. [ Photo Credit: CFP]

On March 13, 2024, ending political uncertainty, Speaker Dev Raj Ghimire, amidst cheers from the ruling coalition members announced, “The Prime Minister has won the vote of confidence

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda received 157 votes in his favour in the 275-member House of Representatives (HoR). Among those who voted for Dahal were 75 lawmakers from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), 32 from the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-Maoist Center), 21 from the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), 12 from the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), 10 from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Socialist (CPN-Unified Socialist), four from the Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP), one (each) from the Aam Janata Party (AJP), and independent lawmakers Amaresh Kumar Singh and Yogendra Mandal. Among those voting against him were 87 lawmakers from the NC, 13 from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), five from the Janamat Party, four from the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP), and one lawmaker from the Rastriya Jana Morcha (RJM). The Nepal Workers and Peasants Party’s Prem Suwal abstained from the vote. 268 lawmakers were present in the House.

Prime Minister Dahal had to take a vote of confidence under Article 100(2) of the Constitution of Nepal after the NC’s withdrawal of support to the then ruling coalition, on March 4, 2024.

Interestingly, Prachanda’s new political alliance is with the CPN-UML led by former Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli. The current coalition, which commands a comfortable majority, comprises the CPN-UML, the CPN-Maoist Center, the RSP, the JSP and the CPN-Unified Socialist.

On March 12, 2024, CPN-UML’s Oli, CPN-Maoist’s Dahal, Chairperson of CPN-Unified Socialist Madhav Kumar Nepal, Chairperson of RSP Rabi Lamichhane, and JSP chair Upendra Yadav, had signed a seven-point agreement to support the Dahal government and make it successful. The first point of the agreement read,

The [new] coalition has been formed among like-minded parties for good governance, development, social justice and prosperity. The government will be led by Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Other points of the agreement include, inter alia, all the tasks relating to the peace process, including amending the transitional justice law; preparing laws needed for effective implementation of federalism; making all three tiers of government effective; preparation of a common minimum programme to guide the government’s performance; and an agreement to move to forward while protecting and promoting sovereignty and national integrity.

Earlier, on February 18, 2024, during a meeting of the Samajwadi Morcha (Socialist Front), a coalition of five left-leaning political parties [the CPN-Maoist Center, JSP, CPN-Unified Socialist, and the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist-Chand)], Netra Bikram Chand aka Biplav was made the coordinator of the Front. The Front was previously led by the Prime Minister and Chairman of CPN-Maoist Center, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and the Chairman of CPN-Unified Socialist, Madhav Kumar Nepal.

It is noteworthy that Dahal, who became PM on December 26, 2022, had gone for the customary floor test for the first time on January 10, 2023. Dahal had then received 268 votes. Two lawmakers voted against him. A total of 270 lawmakers were present.

On February 27, 2023, CPN-UML exited the coalition, forcing Dahal to take a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives for the second time. In the second vote of confidence, on March 20, 2023, Dahal received 172 votes in the 275-member Parliament. 89 lawmakers voted against the motion, while Prem Suwal, the lone lawmaker from the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, remained neutral. A total of 262 lawmakers were present.

Though political uncertainties have long been a regular feature, the country remains free of terrorism. The last terrorism-linked fatality was recorded on December 8, 2020, when a teacher, Rajendra Shrestha, was shot dead by Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist-Chand) cadres in the Miklajung Rural Municipality in Morang District of Province No. 1. There were 13 fatalities in 2019 (three civilians, two Security Force (SF) personnel and eight extremists), all linked to CPN-Maoist-Chand. Violence had surged in 2019, after a lull of almost six years, between 2013 and 2018, during which Nepal recorded just two fatalities (both civilians, in 2013). Since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data, a total of 3,926 incidents of killing were recorded, resulting in 14,070 fatalities including 1,179 civilians, 2,388 SF personnel, 10,299 Maoist rebels, and 204 deaths that remained unspecified. At peak in 2002, the insurgency resulted in 5,606 fatalities, including 210 civilians, 710 SF personnel, 4,654 Maoist rebels, and 32 in the unspecified category.

The last violent incident in the country was reported on March 14, 2021, when nine people were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device in the Land Revenue Office based in Lahan, Siraha District, Province No. 2. The device exploded on the first floor of the office at around 1 pm [NST].

Though Maoist violence in the country came to an end in 2006 after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, other violent groups emerged in the Terai region thereafter, leading to sustained armed conflict till 2012. Though these groups lost their relevance under relentless pressure by the SFs, CPN-Maoist-Chand, formed on December 1, 2014, after splitting from the Communist Party of Nepal (Revolutionary Maoist) headed by Mohan Baidya, emerged as a threat thereafter.

On March 12, 2019, the then K. P. Sharma Oli government banned CPN-Maoist-Chand. Two years later, on March 4, 2021, the then Oli government lifted the ban on the Chand party’s activities and signed a three-point deal with the group, bringing the last of the active armed outfits in the country into mainstream politics. The three-point agreement, signed by then Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa and Communist Party of Nepal spokesperson Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma, thus stated, inter alia:

the CPN-Maoist-Chand would seek to address all its political issues through dialogue,

the CPN-Maoist-Chand will carry out all political activities in a peaceful manner, and

the Nepal government, in return, would lift the ban imposed on the party’s activities and initiate the process to release the party’s cadres from jail and withdraw cases against them. This incident came to light on January 14, 2023, when the Delhi Police recovered two hand grenades and a man’s dismembered body, following the interrogation of two terrorist suspects, identified as Jagjit Singh alias Jagga, and Naushad, who had been arrested on January 12, 2023.

Thus, as of now, the country has no active insurgent group.

Insurgency has died out in Nepal, and there is very little chance of a resurgence of armed conflict in the foreseeable future, but political uncertainty and volatility have always kept the Himalayan country at risk. The political classes as well as the people have to display extraordinary patience and trust in the necessity of strengthening democracy, addressing existing distortions and discrepancies, to establish a process of peaceful democratic progression.

Deepak Kumar Nayak

Deepak Kumar Nayak, Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi, India

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog