Second largest party in Parliament – CPN-UML – on Monday withdrew its support to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”-led government following a rift over backing the main opposition party’s candidate for the presidential poll, plunging the country to fresh political crisis.
“A high-level meeting of the party held under the leadership of party chief K P Sharma Oli on Monday decided to quit the government and withdraw the party’s support to the Prachanda-led government,” according to Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the party’s central publicity committee.
The main reason for the break-up of the alliance between Prachanda and former prime minister Oli was the Maoist leader’s decision to support senior Nepali Congress (NC) candidate Ram Chandra Poudyal for the President’s post.
The exit of CPN-UML may not immediately affect the Prachanda-led government, which is supported by largest party in the Parliament NC and other smaller parties, pointed out observers.
As Prime Minister Prachanda violated the December 25 agreement while forming the seven-party coalition government and betrayed the Communist Party of Nepal-(Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), the party took the decision to leave the government, Rijal said.
The UML ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Poudyal and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Poudyal, have submitted their resignations to the Prime Minister. There were eight UML ministers in the Prachanda-led government.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Swatantra Party led by former TV journalist Ravi Lamichhane has decided to continue its support to the government, said Biraj Bhakta Shrestha, deputy Parliamentary Party leader of RSP.
With the three major parties, NC (89), CPN-Maoist Centre (32) and RSP (20), the government has support of at least 141 lawmakers. Prachanda needs only 138 votes in parliament to continue as the prime minister.
According to constitutional experts, the prime minister must face a vote of confidence within 30 days.
“The Prachanda-led government is required to seek a vote of confidence in the Parliament after the major ruling alliance CPN-UML withdrew its support,” said senior Nepali Congress leader Prakash Man Singh. “However, the government led by Prachanda will have no difficulty to survive the vote with the support from Nepali Congress and other political parties,” he added.
“Whether Prachanda will seek the vote of confidence before the presidential election or after depends upon the Prime Minister and the eight party alliance is working out a strategy on how to move forward in the new political scenario,” Singh said.
Nepali Congress will certainly join the coalition government as the old seven-party alliance has already broken with the emergence of new eight-party alliance, said Singh, the former deputy prime minister.
UML’s vice-chairman Bishnu Prasad Paudel earlier claimed that Prime Minister Prachanda used pressure tactics on the UML ministers to quit the government, which forced them to withdraw support, according to My Republica newspaper.
He claimed that Prachanda warned that if the CPN-UML does not leave the government, he would immediately dismiss the ministers or even appoint departmental ministers without them, the report said.
He alleged that Prime Minister Prachanda demonstrated immaturity by stopping Foreign Minister Paudyal, who was about to visit Geneva, at the eleventh hour. Paudyal, who is from the UML party, was scheduled to fly to Geneva to attend a high-level session of the UN Human Rights Council. However, Prime Minister Prachanda asked her to cancel the visit. This move by Prachanda riled the Oli-led party even further.
Oli has claimed that while backing Prachanda’s bid for prime minister last year, it was agreed upon that the post of President would go to the UML
Paudel also accused Prachanda of not wanting political stability in the country as he was not ready to honour the agreement reached with the party earlier. Meanwhile, Prachanda cancelled his first foreign visit to Qatar due to some “important political engagements” at home, officials said on Monday, amidst a threat to the stability of his coalition government ahead of the presidential election.