President Bidya Devi Bhandari has been singled out for particular attacks for having given her backing to the prime minister’s recommendation to dissolve the House. Street protests by the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) as well as Dahal-Nepal loyalists of the NCP on Sunday continued into Monday in cities around Nepal. Many of them chanted slogans against Oli and President Bhandari, burning them in effigy. Placards called them ‘murderers of democracy’.
Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai, who is close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, and who was among the seven Cabinet ministers who resigned on Sunday, said that he tried his best to talk the prime minister out of dissolving the House.
“We resigned because we could not convince the prime minister not to take such a drastic step,” said Bhattarai. “If cool heads prevail, we can still revive the Lower House. It has not reached a point of no return yet.”
Interestingly, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa who was among former Maoists in the Cabinet who did not join other seven ministers in resigning on Sunday, was not present at the Baluwatar meeting. Two other former Maoist NCP members, however, were present.
Meanwhile, Lumbini Province Chief Minister Shankar Pokhrel, who is a close adviser to Oli, defended the prime minister’s decision and said it was a pre-emptive move to forestall a vote of no confidence in the House by 90 Dahal-Nepal supporters.
“It was forced on us, we had to go for a fresh mandate through elections,” he said. “The comrades were going against the party’s principles and working to bring a rift within the party.”