English News

  • youtube
  • facebook
  • twitter

Confounded politics: An explainer on what is happening in Nepal

<p style="font-weight: 400;">It has been a tumultuous year for Nepal. The landlocked nation caught between giants India and China continues to witness political instability. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved the parliament this Sunday. His own party – the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) – has seen a split and much political uncertainty reigns in the country. People in many provinces of Nepal are angry and have taken to the streets to protest Oli's move.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>What is the current political situation?</strong></p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">The NCP, with a running feud between its stalwarts Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) had been on the verge of a split many times this year. This is deepening the fault lines between (UML)—that Oli leads and Prachanda, who is backed by two communist heavyweights—former prime minister Madhav Nepal and— Jhala Nath Khanal. Oli's decision to dissolve parliament has been accepted by the President Bidya Devi Bhandari.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">This has forced the Supreme Court, which will take its call, probably on Wednesday, to take a stand on the constitutional validity of the dissolution. Its verdict will trigger the next round of politicking which could end with fresh elections between April and May this year.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">The NCP had reached the brink of a split at least twice this year. However, Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi had brought the two factions together to avoid a split in the party, and advance its own geopolitical interests. Over the past few years China has been playing an important role in Nepal not only owing to strong communist links, but on account of its capacity to meet Nepal's economic needs channelled through their common border in Tibet.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Is there a history to the discord between Oli and Prachanda?</strong></p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">The two leaders had come together in 2018 after the merger of their respective parties – Oli’s CPN-UML and Prachanda's CPN (Maoist Centre) to form the NCP, and also the government. Now both leaders claim that they are the legitimate heads of the party. This contentious matter is headed to the Election Commission and the courts who will decide who is the real head of the party and who will retain the political symbol.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Why are differences between the two leaders becoming irreconcilable?</strong></p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">Both leaders say that they have the support of the majority of their members. Their animosity has been continuing for a long time and Prachanda has accused Oli of working unilaterally in an authoritarian manner. Oli is also blamed for sidelining other important leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal, who eventually joined the Prachanda faction. Oli, on the other hand, says that Prachanda could not unify the cadres of the two parties successfully.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Is China a factor in the crisis?</strong></p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">China has been cultivating the communist coalition and has deepened its economic and geopolitical stakes in the Himalayan republic. The Chinese see the coalition central to tagging Nepal with its signature Belt and Road Initiative.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Public resentment at prospects of another round of elections?</strong></p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">It is still early days, but people, especially from the younger generation, appear visibly unhappy with the dissolution of the parliament. There have been several street demonstrations in the country since Oli announced the dissolution of parliament.</p>