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Trapped, Oli

editConcluding the tirade of allegations and counter-allegations in the legislature on the no-confidence motion against government, Prime Minister K. P. Oli emerged the ultimate winner. That he had lost his majority there was evident much before the motion was introduced in parliament simply because it was his erstwhile partners that tabled the motion against him and because the other largest party, the Nepali Congress, had chosen to remain in the opposition. Oli himself new well the numbers. Oli won because he scored constitutional points. He could have created yet another constitutional crisis by not resigning despite his loss in government majority since this constitution, kin the so-called critical period of implementation, had not envisaged that the consensus in government would fail and thus had not provided for how a new government would be formed. It is here that Oli turned to a more convenient resort. He asked the President to use her extra-constitutional powers to ask parliament to form a majority in a week’s time. Oli, thus, deserves credit for his sense of constitutionalism.
But if Oli and anyone else perceive that this will end the series of constitutional crises that are forthcoming, it is a masterly piece of delusion. If a simple democratic exercise of a change in government can invite constitutional crisis and invoke presidential injunction, what more example of constitutional shortsightedness? The very foundations of constitutionalism are defeated under the assumption that the system runs in accordance to consensus but not on account of constitutional compulsions. Politics, being politics, is behavioral, as we have said. The politics of this country is, in essence, impudent and unaccountable. The leading question, as K. P. asked quite clearly, is how can a partner in government that tabled the budget fail the very budget it helped table? In the Nepali case it can and there is no constitutional binding in the letters of the constitution that inhibits such a sordid precedence. Again, as K.P. can ask, how can a government be formed smoothly in the event of such a motion not but be done without a presidential injunction.
But one can understand why people like Oli would like to have a workable constitution. They share the spoils whether in or out of government. What they do not quite seem to comprehend is in the import of the use of the House Speaker or the President of the country being dragged into needless controversy as in the mundane task of removing and forming governments. The fact is that contradictory clauses put in the constitution in the name of consensus politics make its requirements virtually impossible to decipher for sake of constitutionalism. It is not just the constitution but the country-s institutions and the country itself that loses. Be warned, allowing these contradictions is itself a disservice to constitutionalism and doing so solely with the purpose of a share in the spoils is the height of political expediency. It can merely invite more such crises. The remedy does not lie in this constitution but elsewhere. This is what we have been saying all along.

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