A new chapter in Nepal’s quest for political stability


Supreme Court order offers some respite amid political uncertainty, with lessons for Indian diplomacy as well

On July 12, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nepal delivered a 168-page verdict on a case filed by 149 lawmakers out of the 275 parliamentarians demanding that Sher Bahadur Deuba be appointed prime minister. Although the parliamentarians approached the Supreme Court because Mr. Deuba had garnered enough support to become Prime Minister of Nepal under article 76 (5) of the Constitution, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari refused to accept it. hear. Instead, the president re-appointed KP Sharma Oli as interim prime minister until the conclusion of the elections they decided to hold in October and November 2021. It ends now.

Impact of court intervention

Under such circumstances, the verdict of the Supreme Court ended the collusion between Mr. Oli and Ms. Bhandari to continually take decisions contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. In December, when the President dissolved Parliament at Mr. Oli’s request, the Supreme Court ruled against the ordinance and restored Parliament. The Supreme Court even sent a warning to the President to remind her that the office of President is also defined by the Constitution and, therefore, cannot be superior to it.

On Wednesday July 14, 2021, Mr. Oli left his official residence in Baluwatar which, over the past three and a half years, had become his office, party headquarters and center of power in Nepal comparable to Narayanhiti Palace during the direct reign of kings. He left his residence after addressing the nation in a similar fashion to the time King Gyanendra left Narayanhiti Palace on June 11, 2008. His supporters held a procession.

The Oli years

In the past, Mr. Oli’s popularity rose when he challenged India during the September 2015 blockade and stoked nationalism to become the leader who could rule Nepal. For the 2017 federal and provincial elections, the two main communist parties, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist-UML), allied and, with an overwhelming victory, were to provide a government. stable. in Nepal in three decades. This coalition between the two parties had set certain conditions, one of which was that Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Mr. Oli be supposed to alternate the post of Prime Minister. Even in the midst of these conditions and party coalitions, for the Nepalese general public, Mr. Oli came with many expectations. He appointed a technocrat as finance minister, a former central bank governor and other members of the team who people saw as deliverers of goods. Before taking over, he held various consultations. In one of the long sessions, he gave the impression that he was serious. It had a slogan, “Prosperous Nepal – Happy Nepalese”, which appealed to Nepalese both at home and abroad, giving the feeling that, perhaps, the great moment has come for Nepal’s transformation.

However, infighting within the ruling party that united in May 2018 began to surface in December 2019. Mr. Oli had, in two years of his rule, ensured that his kitchen cabinet ran the country while its image and international relations were managed by eminent citizens who continued to defend it until the end. He unleashed crony capitalism. Many business groups profited from his reign.

International relations collapsed when Mr Oli faced India with a modified map of the country, which only affected bilateral relations. As the grant from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was not ratified, ties were severed with regard to US investors. With China, when he greeted Chinese President Xi Jinping in a lightning transit stopover, agreements never saw the light of day when it comes to their implementation. The complaints of Chinese investors in Nepal in terms of governance and bureaucracy were no different from the complaints of others.

However, his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic sparked a public outcry due to the lack of health facilities. He was personally drawn into the Nepalese vaccine scam when purchasing vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. In his swan song he tried to take credit for the support Nepal received which was more due to the goodwill of Nepal and the efforts of many known and unknown activists who ran from pillar to post in different countries. to get support and vaccines for Nepal.

Look ahead

The new prime minister, Mr Deuba, has been prime minister four times but does not have an excellent record. He may have won the vote of confidence on July 18 (Photo). But in this, there is a big lesson for India: how not to push the relationship through intelligence agencies and other unspoken means, because it fails every time. This has been seen in previous decades. India must continue to build on people-to-people relationships and engage through the official channels of bilateral platforms and diplomacy. Let us not forget that the geopolitics are changing because Nepal is now free to be “locked India”.

Sujeev Shakya is the author of Liberate Nepal and Liberating the Vajra – Nepal’s Journey between India and China

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