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Nepal’s PM secures vote of confidence for a second time in three months

Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda (Photo: Twitter)

KATHMANDU: Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda has won a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives, lower house of parliament, after securing the support of the Nepali Congress, the largest party, and other political outfits inside parliament.

Prime Minister Prachanda garnered 172 votes in his favor while 89 against in the 275-strong parliament, on Monday. Only 262 MPs were present during the voting.  A lawmaker abstained from voting. Prime Minister Prachanda required at least 138 votes to win the vote of confidence.

“I promise to work firmly for social justice, good governance and prosperity, turning the trust you have given into energy,” Prachanda, 68, said after winning the trust vote in parliament. He also said he would visit India possibly in mid-April.

This was the second time Prachanda sought a vote of confidence since he took charge as the country’s prime minister in late December last year.

Earlier on January 10, he secured the vote of confidence with the support of KP Oli’s CPN (UML), Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and Madhesh-centric parties. He secured the support of over two thirds majority in parliament as even the Nepali Congress, then opposition party, unexpectedly backed him during the vote of confidence.

As time passed, a bitter tussle between UML’s Oli and Prime Minister Prachanda surfaced over surfaced quickly over some contemporary political issues including the presidential elections scheduled for March 9. Oli insisted on electing someone else from the seven-party ruling alliance as the common candidate for the presidency while Prachanda stood in favor of a Nepali Congress nominee for the same and asked the UML to support for the same. Rounds of talks between Oli and Prachanda failed to narrow differences.

Eventually, Prime Minister Prachanda, also the Maoist party chief, extended his party’s support to the Nepali Congress nominee Ram Chandra Paudel in the presidential elections, the CPN (UML) and RPP, key allies, quit the government. This political development effectively collapsed the seven-party ruling alliance dominated by the Maoist and the UML.

With UML and RPP’s exit from the government, Prime Minister Prachanda lost comfortable majority in parliament forcing him to face the floor test again. As per Nepal’s constitution, Prime Minister is required to face the floor test in parliament if any ally withdraws support.

On Monday, at least ten political parties extended parliamentary support to Prime Minister Prachanda, effectively bolstering the eight-party alliance in which the Nepali Congress will be the main ally.

The CPN (Unified Socialist) Janata Samajbadi Party, Janamat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party, Loktantrik Samjbadi Party and Rastriya Janamorcha are other allies in the ruling alliance.

Prime Minister Prachanda will now expand his cabinet by inducting ministers from the Nepali Congress party and other allies, according to his aides.

Over one and half dozen ministerial portfolios, which are currently being overseen by Prime Minister Prachanda, will be distributed to the partners in the eight-party alliance.

At least eight ministerial portfolios including the foreign affairs and finance will be given to the Nepali Congress, according to sources. These key portfolios were held by ministers from the UML when the party was backing Prime Minister Prachanda from December 2022 to late February.

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal correspondent based in Kathmandu.)

Also read: Nepali Congress to join government next week as Prachanda, Deuba seek to bolster eight-party alliance