[Editorial Analysis] A second chance for Nepal’s young democracy

Mains Paper 2: International Relation
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: India Nepal relations

Context:

• Supported by the President Bidya Devi Bhandari, which was a surprise, Mr. Oli briskly dissolved the Lower House of the federal Parliament on December 20, 2020, which only undermined the democratic spirit and dampened the prospects of stability and equitable growth in the country even further.

• The Nepalese PM has stated that this decision was on the backdrop of infighting within the ruling Nepalese Communist Party (NCP).

Nepal’s Constitution History:

• It can be said that the only constant in Nepali politics is ‘unpredictability’.

• Nepali would soon get something better than the discriminatory political culture that started way back in 2015 with the new Constitution and selective political maneuverings.

• While it was time to deepen the footprints of the key institutions of democracy, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli succeeded in making himself a bigger institution than the Constitution and Parliament.

• Even when the Supreme Court reinstated the dissolved Parliament on February 23, 2021 and disputed the legal status of Nepal Communist Party (a merged entity of Communist Party of Nepal-ML and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre), Mr. Oli continues to survive in the new age of Nepali politics where accountability is seldom seen as a virtue.

• The obsession with the positioning of India and China, more so with the abolition of the monarchy, has been a survival game in Nepali politics.

• The tendency to raise the bogey of the “hostile” neighbour has weakened politics and has failed the idea of representing constituent interests.

Constitutional provisions:

• Among the key factors of the ongoing political stalemate in Nepal are certain rigid constitutional provisions that have made it possible for Mr. Oli to take cover behind a shield and continue, as getting into election phase or looking for the possibility of a caretaker coalition government is a very difficult proposition.

• Instead of incorporating the provision of a no-confidence motion in its true spirit as a multi-party democracy, Nepal gets an unusual clause (Article 100(4)) in its new Constitution that allows a no-confidence motion only two years after the formation of the government — and even this can happen only when one fourth of the total number of existing members of the House of Representatives may table a motion of no-confidence in writing that the House has no confidence in the Prime Minister.

• Article 100(5) is even more perplexing which necessitates the motion of no-confidence shall also indicate the name of a member proposed for the Prime Minister.

• Overcoming such arduous challenges is surely very tough for the three leading parties (Nepali Congress, Maoist Centre and Janata Samajbadi Party) seen in the race to bring the Oli government down.

• Even to exercise the choice of a no-confidence motion, two parties of these three have to be on the same front for getting the magical number of 68 Parliamentarians.

• However, Mr. Oli has astutely managed to outwit his political opponents both within his party and the Opposition by playing on their differences.

• Demands of opposition parties were limited only to Mr. Oli’s resignation and were not oriented toward the building of an alternate front, which gave a much needed respite to Mr. Oli.

• After the Supreme Court of Nepal reinstated Parliament in February this year, it came out with the next historic verdict on March 7 in which the top court had scrapped the legal status of the ruling Nepal Communist Party.

Way forward:

• The political muddle apart, this is no time for elections, especially with a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

• Nepal also stares at a lack of sufficient numbers of vaccines which has left the population vulnerable.

• Also, good governance cannot be ensured by a government that is caught up in survivalist compulsions.

• The best way forward would be in giving democracy a good chance. For now, this can be made possible by the political parties alone.

• They have to aspire to ensure peace, progress and stability; the easiest option would be to work towards a consensus government with all the major parties joining hands and running it collectively.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the BIMSTEC, consider the following statements:

1. It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.

2. It consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: A

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