CPN lawmakers from erstwhile CPN-UML in Karnali have ganged up against the party's Chief Minister (CM) Mahendra Bahadur Shahi from the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Center).
Eighteen lawmakers including 15 from erstwhile UML and three from Maoist Center have registered the no confidence motion at the parliamentary party against CM Shahi on Sunday.
CPN has 33 lawmakers in the 40-strong provincial assembly with 20 from erstwhile UML and 13 Maoists.
Yam Lal Kandel, who was a central leader of UML for a long time and a minister at the center, expected to be the CM as UML alone had majority in the province. But Shahi was made CM despite the then Maoists having just 13 lawmakers as part of the power sharing agreement that gave the post of CM to UML in four of the six provinces where the two parties together secured majority and to Maoist Center in two provinces.
Kandel was close to Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam in the past and has recently joined the camp of Chairman KP Sharma Oli. The 15 erstwhile UML lawmakers who signed in the no confidence motion include seven from the Oli camp and eight from the faction of Senior Leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.
Sources claim that more lawmakers from the erstwhile UML are against CM Shahi with chief whip Gulav Jung Shah not signing the motion as he has to call the parliamentary party meeting. "We have demanded meeting immediately within 24 hours if possible," lawmaker Sushil Thapa, who has signed in the motion, told Setopati. "It will be convened within 24 hours as far as possible. It will be convened by Tuesday if not and decision will be taken."
If the parliamentary party meeting is convened Shahi is set to be removed and Kandel elected the new parliamentary party leader as chief whip Shah and two current provincial ministers Dal Rawal and Nanda Singh Buda are also with Kandel who already has majority in the parliamentary party.
Only intervention from the center can save Shahi. "This is a clear issue of the province. This has nothing with the central leadership," quipped lawmaker Thammar Bahadur Bista, who is one of the three erstwhile Maoist lawmakers along with Dharma Raj Regmi and Deputy Speaker Pushpa Gharti Bista, to sign on the motion.
He claimed that central politics was not in play while registering the motion and added that the lawmakers have just exercised their rights to call the parliamentary party meeting. "The parliamentary party is all powerful and it appoints CM and ministers. It can also decide what to do next. The process has started with registration of the motion today. How the government takes it and how discussions move forward will be known later."
Shahi returned back from Kathmandu only three days back and must have briefed CPN Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal about recent developments in the province. But Dahal will face difficulty to save him as Nepal is also unhappy with him for recently allying with Oli to resolve the intra-party dispute.
There are speculations that current Internal Affairs Minister Prakash Jwala, who is not in the campaign to oust the CM, may also claim for the post of CM but a leader claimed that Jwala, who is from Nepal faction, will not vie for the post.
The lawmakers have alleged that the Shahi-led government has failed to work effectively leading to weak representation of the party among the public in the no confidence motion.
CM Shahi had filled his Cabinet with two ministers each from erstwhile Maoists, and Oli and Nepal factions of UML. But he has kept the Ministry of Physical Planning and Infrastructure with himself after sacking the then minister Khadga Bahadur Khatri, from Nepal faction, who was charged of banking offense in July 2019, instead of appointing a minister from Nepal faction to keep the balance of two ministers each from three CPN factions.