The fight for power has once again started within the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), under the prime ministership of Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli. Several voices within the ruling party and the country are raging on against KP Oli, demanding his resignation from both the post of the Prime Minister of Nepal as well as that of the Chairman of the NCP.
Despite the ongoing rift within his party, Oli on Saturday evening warned his cabinet members to embrace themselves for the worst, asking them to decide on “whose side they would perform” hinting at the possible split of the party.
Oli also deferred the Central Standing Committee meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday morning, till July 6 (.i.e. Monday), raising suspicion amid the party factions. Despite the heaving political drama in the country, the parliamentary session has been prorogued on Thursday without any clue as to when it will resume.
Amid all this upheaval within the party, all eyes are on the Standing Committee meeting which is going on with a certain backdrop of uncertainty. The question is “Does the Central Committee meeting hold the power to remove Oli from his posts?”
Here are the answers:
Mathematics of the Standing Committee Meeting
Premier Oli lacks enough support to save himself from decisions made by the Central Committee during the meeting. The Central Committee meeting has 19 members from the former CPN-Maoist Centre and 26 from former CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist-Leninist) out of which 13 are from former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s faction.
As the former Maoist faction is led by Pushpa Kumar Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and the majority of the faction of UML is in support of Madhav Nepal, the coalition of two senior leaders can make the decisions on the basis of majority.
Will PM Oli be compelled to step down if the Central Committee decides on it?
This obviously would exert moral pressure on Oli to step down from his post. But the constitutional provisions save him as they leave out more space to his will.
So what can the Standing Committee do to make him step down from the post? Here are two options:
1. Removing him from the post as the leader of the Parliamentary Party
2. Taking action against the Prime Minister
Both ways are full of obstacles for leaders of the NCP because of some constitutional provisions.
Section 76 of Nepal’s Constitution has the provision of selecting Prime Minister from a party representing the House of Representatives which has a majority. The NCP can select a leader from its party present in the parliament as a new Prime Minister.
In order to do so, the majority of lawmakers from the party should vote against Prime Minister Oli to oust him. Whether the majority is in support or against Oli in the parliament is not yet known. But it is a fact that Oli has a majority in the parliament than the Central Committee or the Standing Committee of the party.
The factions inside the party also had made the attempt to measure the support back in May but it all failed as some of the lawmakers signed both for and against Prime Minister Oli while some abstained in the fray.
The Nepal Communist Party controls a total of 223 seats in the parliament while the majority needed to oust Oli from the post is 112, which is claimed on by both Prachanda-Nepal and the Oli factions.
However, even if the Prachanda-Nepal faction claimed the majority against Oli, there are constitutional provisions that will allow the latter to continue with his post.
The Constitution has stated “four” specific conditions under which the Prime Minister would be required to step down from his post.
1. If the Prime Minister writes to the President mentioning that he/she is stepping down.
2. If he/she fails the Vote of Confidence in the parliament.
3. If he/she loses the seat in House of Representatives.
4. In the case of his/her death.
So, Prime Minister Oli is protected by the constitution to stay in his post until he feels the need to step down or loses the vote of confidence in the parliament. The Nepal Communist Party cannot recommend a new Prime Minister to the President until and unless the incumbent Prime Minister resigns.
If the dissatisfied leaders from the party decide to take the confidence motion to the parliament then they would require the support of the opposition parties and the name of a new candidate for the post. This might lead the NCP to faction and a coalition government is possible to form like that of before.
In case Oli survives the Confidence motion, the opposition inside the party and as well as in the parliament would need to wait for a year to lodge another such motion in the parliament.
A possible step that the party can initiate against Oli
The party has an option to remove Oli from the post of the Prime Minister and that is to take disciplinary action against him. If the Central Committee of the party directs the Prime Minister to resign and he disobeys it, then the party can take disciplinary actions, stepping on Section 56 (A) of the Party’s legislation for “disobeying party’s disorder”.
Section 56 (B) of the Party’s legislation can remove him from any sort of membership of the Nepal Communist Party. Upon doing this, his seat in the Parliament will fall vacant, which will ultimately remove him from the post of the Prime Minister.