There is no doubt that his ordinance move was meant to facilitate his ally Madhav Nepal’s participation in government. NC leaders admit that Deuba will move to fill the Cabinet quickly now that the UML split is official.
“We had been waiting for Madhav Nepal,” says NC joint general secretary and close Deuba confidante Prakash Sharan Mahat, “the cabinet should now be complete within the next couple of days.”
UML (Socialist) leader Veduram Bhusal says that although there has not been a formal decision to join Deuba’s government, the party will remain in the coalition.
“Madhav Nepal played a significant role in forming the current government, and the government is even stronger now that our party has been officially recognised,” he said.
Parliament serves a full term
In July, Deuba received 165 votes in Parliament to pass the floor test, including from 22 lawmakers from the Nepal faction of the UML and surprisingly, from the entire pro-Oli Mahanta Thakur faction within the JSP.
That Deuba got that support beyond the required simple majority of 138 votes increased the likelihood that Parliament will after all be able to serve its full term after Oli dissolved it twice amid fierce infighting within his party.
Possible UML reunification
The UML was established in 1990 after the unity of two communist parties and had split once before in 1997 only to be reunited three years later.
So, there is still a slight possibility that history will be repeated.
Indeed, as Madhav Nepal moves forward with his rump party, Oli has also been planning his next political move.
The former prime minister has been stepping up party activities standing shoulder to shoulder with his enemies and staunch former Madhav Nepal allies like Bhim Rawal, Astalaxmi Shakya, Surendra Pandey, Ghanshyam Bhusal, Yogesh Bhattarai, Gokarna Bista, and Raghuji Pant.
These gentlemen, and one lady, obviously saw their electoral prospects would be brighter if they remained in the original UML with Oli.
New electoral alliances
Besides negotiations on government formation, leaders of the Maoist (Centre), UML (Socialist), and JSP have already begun to explore the possibility of forming an electoral alliance ahead of the polls in 2023.
In fact, political analyst Shyam Shrestha believes that Mohan Baidha and Netra Bikram Chand factions of the Maoists could also join the alliance if Madhav Nepal’s party “adopts a slightly more revolutionary path”.
Considering the similar ideological backgrounds of leaders like Upendra Yadav, Baburam Bhattarai, Ashok Rai, Mahendra Rai Yadav, and Rakam Chemjong, a ‘socialist’ alliance indeed looks possible —at least on paper.
However, the implosion of the ambitious UML-Maoist (Centre) merger into the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) that barely lasted three years has made leftist leaders wary of forging similar marriages of convenience.
Says Giriraj Mani Pokhrel of the Maoists (Centre): “The UML and the Maoist (Centre) have both learned that unity is only possible if all parties involved are on the same page regarding political, ideological and organisational issues, and that such a meeting of minds lasts.”
Transliteration by Shristi Karki from the Himal Khabar original in Nepali.