BY DR. S. CHANDRASEKHARAN
Pushpakamal Dahal the co-chairman of the ruling party, the Nepal Communist Party in one of his meetings declared that his party could form a government in Province No. 2 any day if it wanted but has refrained from doing so. He alleged that corruption cases in Province No. 2 are on the rise and said that the day is not far off when the NCP at the federal level will indeed have to lead the provincial government. He pointed out a very irrelevant piece of information that the private numbers of individuals have been entered into the government directories in the province.
Dahal’s threat reminded one of the famous Aesop’s Fable of “Wolf and the Lamb”. The chief minister of No. 2 Province Lalbabu Raut challenged Dahal immediately to topple his government. He added that the ruling party at the centre and federal government did not like the Province No. 2 government’s efforts to instituionalise federalism.
It is not known whether Dahal who has no official position in the government had discussed it with Prime Minister Oli. It is also in public domain that the centre is facing a serious allegation of mega corruption in the “Fake Vat Bills” case where the government is said to have lost over 7 billion rupees because of illegal transactions. Yet Dahal is pointing out corruption in Province No. 2 alone though he has not given any specific instance except the telephone directory entries!
Perhaps the NCP is not comfortable in having another party ruling Province No. 2 when all other six provinces are led by the NCP- the same as the centre!
In the provincial assembly of Province No 2, of the 107 seats, the two parties FSFN and RJP who run the government have 54 seats with a very thin majority, followed by the NCP the ruling party at the centre with 32 seats and the opposition at the federal level – the Nepali Congress with 19. While a no confidence motion can be initiated under Article 188 of the constitution, the present configuration of the assembly is such that such a motion cannot be carried through, unless Dahal has plans to do some horse trading! It is almost certain that the (Effete) opposition Nepali Congress will not support such a motion either.
Removal of a provincial government is provided for under Article 232- section 3 that says that if any province indulges in an act that would have a serious effect on Nepal’ sovereignty, territorial integrity or independence or autonomy, the President should reprimand such a province, suspend or dissolve the council of ministers of the province and the provincial assembly etc.
The tenor of the Act though not tested in a court so far, gives the impression that the province should be given notice first by reprimand and later suspension etc. At any rate, Dahal who has no official position has no authority even to make such threats and he should be reprimanded by his party the NCP or the prime minister!
It is in this context that one should see the merger of one of the constituent parties of the provincial assembly – the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum of Nepal led by Upendra Yadav merging with the Naya Shakti of Nepal led by ex Maoist Baburam Bhattarai this week. The new party has been named Samajbadi Party (no relation to the Indian one!).
The new party is said to work to institutionalize federal democratic republic, while striving for ending all forms of discrimination, exploitation, inequality based on caste, creed, clan, gender and region which are prevalent in Nepal. To me, the key word is discrimination.
It is not clear what made Upendra Yadav, the leader of the larger party – the SSFN go in for merger with the Naya Shakti of Bhattarai which has found no traction at the federal level so far. One thing however is certain. Baburam Bhattarai is a strong proponent of federalism and the Tara groups which have been fighting for federalism for many years will find a sympathetic leader who can articulate the desire of the Tarai better among the non Tara groups also. It is also learnt that some representatives of the other leading Tara group – the RJP were also present during the merger talks.
I wish Dahal gets a no confidence motion going in Province No. 2 which I am sure will get defeated and that will give another year of “threat free” administration for Province No. 2.
(South Asian Analysis Group)