Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali blamed the Nepal faction of the UML for the debacle. “By trying to make the leader of an opposition party the prime minister, they pushed the country to early elections,” he said.
The NC-MC-JSP coalition claimed to have 149 signatures, while Oli counted all 121 members of his UML, including the dissident faction, as well as all 34 members, even staunch Oli critics like Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav.
Adding to the complication was that on Friday evening, some members of the UML said they had not signed up support for the NC-MC-JSP group, and they were still with Oli. Even as the country prepares for elections, the UML’s own fate is now uncertain, with at least 27 members of the Nepal faction defecting.
K P Oli became prime minister for the second time after Nepal’s first federal elections under the new Constitution in 2017. His UML party had an electoral alliance with Maoist Centre, and it got a nearly two-thirds majority. The two parties then united in 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party, with an understanding that Oli and Dahal would take turns being prime minister during the five-year term.
But the personal ambitions of Dahal and Oli clashed, and the two UML ex-prime ministers Madhav Nepal and Jhalnath Khanal also sided with Dahal. When the pandemic began last year, the political infighting had already started getting intense. Both sides later held large political rallies to show support, despite fears of contagion.
After finding out that the Dahal faction of the NCP was registering a no-confidence vote in Parliament, Oli dissolved the lower house on 20 December and called for elections. The Supreme Court, however, overturned that decision, and later ruled that the NCP be disbanded into the UML and the Maoist Centre.
Having lost the UML’s majority in the House, Oli used divide-and-rule tactics, and was successful in pulling factions in the Maoist Centre, JSP, and even he NC for a time, to side with him.
In the end, the NC went along with the coalition, even though the JSP’s Mahanta Thakur stayed loyal throughout, and did not join the anti-Oli group on Friday.
The coalition of the NC, MC and sections of the JSP and UML represents an entire spectrum of Nepali politics, united by their opposition to Oli. It does not include the Hindu-royal RPP, which will be happy with the dissolution with the house because it has been pressing for early elections.