If defeat was a given, his game plan could be to get President Bhandari to let him continue while he goes through the motions of cobbling together a coalition. And if he is unsuccessful, he could use a constitutional provision to declare early elections in six months.
That plan could go awry if the NC, Maoist Centre, JSP and dissident UML can enlist enough MPs to form their own coalition. If that happens, Sher Bahadur Deuba could become prime minister for the fifth time. Monday’s session also saw JSP leaders Mahanta Thakur and Upendra Yadav taking diametrically opposing stances: one faction saying it would stay neutral, and the other voting against Oli.
The drama in Parliament was the climax (some would say anti-climax) of a long-running power struggle that pitted Oli against his erstwhile comrades Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and Madhav Kumar Nepal from his own UML.
The NCP was formed out of the electoral alliance of the Maoist Centre and the UML that swept the 2017 elections with a near two-thirds majority. But a feud between Dahal and Oli for control over the party and government had paralysed statecraft, and stymied response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the Supreme Court ordered the NCP to be disbanded into its constituent parties in February, Oli turned to sidelining Nepal from the UML. Moderate party members had been trying to keep the UML unified by mediating between Oli and Nepal till the eleventh hour before Monday’s Special Session.
While Nepal was willing to concede as long Oli also inducted some of his own supporters into the Central Committee, Oli was adamant and refused to compromise. This led many to surmise that Oli was sticking to his strategy of going for elections if not allowed to stay on as prime minister.