In December 2020, Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli dissolved the House of Representatives, the lower house the of Nepal Parliament accusing members of his own party including the former rebels of noncooperation, and called for new elections in April.
The prime minister’s abrupt move plunged Nepal into political uncertainty after years of instability and short-lived governments.
The dissolution came hours before a standing committee meeting that was expected to order a probe into corruption charges leveled against Oli by party co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Oli had also been accused of moving closer to China and drifting away from Nepal’s traditional partner, India, since taking power. It is understood that Oli took the step when he realised that a factional feud within the party had reached the point of no return and he faced possible expulsion both as party chief and as prime minister.
On Sunday, the Prachanda-Nepal faction of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) ousted Oli from the ruling party as a part of disciplinary action against him.
Here’s what led to Oli’s expulsion, and what to expect next.
Split in Nepal Communist Party
Soon after Oli announced his controversial decision, the NCP split into two factions. This effectively ended the unity that was forced among the party cadre that had led to the creation of the single, grand Nepal Communist Party three years ago.
The split in the NCP was also indicative of a systematic collapse. “We will go for a decisive nationwide movement to have this Constitution dumped,” Balakrishna Neupane, convener of an ongoing citizens’ movement, had said.
Hearing in Supreme Court
Ever since the dissolution of the house, a dozen petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution with two years left of the present House’s tenure. Following the parliament’s dissolution, two factions of the NCP have split and have described themselves as the legitimate faction and staked claims over the party’s election symbol being the ‘sun’.
Legal experts said the hearing on Oli’s decision will be expected to go on until February as more than 300 lawyers had registered their names to participate in the proceedings.
On December 29, 2020, an estimated 25,000 people had gathered to protest near Oli’s office and more marches were planned across the Himalayan nation, which lies between India and China.
Former Maoist commander and co-chair of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who led the 1996-2006 uprising, told demonstrators in Kathmandu, earlier in January, that Oli was attempting to “derail the peace process”.
“The elected parliament must be reinstated,” he told the huge crowd, many waving red hammer and sickle flags.
PM Oli Ousted From Party
As the political crisis after the dissolution of the parliament in Nepal deepened, the caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was removed from the ruling Nepal Communist Party by a Central Committee Meeting of the splinter group of the party on Sunday.
“His membership has been revoked,” the spokesperson for the splinter group, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, confirmed to news agency ANI.
The decision divided the party into two groups and sparked a dispute over the party symbol but the Election Commission has declined to recognise either faction as the official party.
A rival faction of the Communist Party had earlier threatened to expel Oli from the party.
“We ousted Oli from the post of chairman of ruling NCP. Now, we will take disciplinary actions against him as he is not fit to remain a member of the Communist Party and we have ordered him to provide clarifications. He has not replied to us till date,” Madhav Kumar Nepal, a leader of the rival faction of NCP, had said.
“No one should be under the impression that the NCP would bow down to KP Oli. It will never happen as we do politics on the basis of value and beliefs,” he remarked.
What Happens Next
Oli is likely to revive the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) which had earlier merged with the Maoists to form the Nepal Communist Party in a deal brokered by China three years back.
There are reports that Oli will seek support from the Nepali Congress and remain at the helm of power.
The unification and its end
Oli was a critic of the politics of violence that caused more than 17,000 deaths. But Oli approached the Maoists in 2017 for a merger between their parties, pre-empting the possibility of an alliance between the Maoists and the Nepali Congress.
Oli was leading the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, and Prachanda represented the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist). Following the merger, the two leaders agreed that they would lead the government in turns, a promise that Oli failed to keep at the end of his two-and-a-half years.
The opposition Nepali Congress hopes that an early poll will earn them a bigger space in Parliament. But it fears that owing to the street protest and violence, along with the onset of rain in late April and early May, could be used as an excuse to further defer the election.
“I doubt elections will be held on the prescribed dates,” said Shekhar Koirala, member of the Nepali Congress central committee.
Nepal army says it will remain neutral
The Nepal Army has made it amply clear that it will remain neutral in the ongoing political developments. This indicates that if PM Oli tries to rule with the help of security forces to maintain law and order and contain protests, it is uncertain how far the Army will support it.
Oli had declared that the next election will be held on April 30 and May 10 next year with him leading a caretaker government, however, his fate is set to be decided by agitating crowds and the Supreme Court. There’s also a movement for the restoration of Nepal as a Hindu kingdom.