The resignation of Lumbini Chief Minister (CM) Shankar Pokharel has been approved by Governor Dharmanath Prasad Yadav.
Pokharel in his resignation submitted to Governor Dharmanath Prasad Yadav on Sunday has mentioned that he resigned to pave the way for forming a new government in the province in accordance to Article 168(1) of the Constitution which states 'The Provincial Head shall appoint the leader of the parliamentary party with majority in the Provincial Assembly as the Chief Minister and the Provincial Council of Ministers shall be formed under the chairpersonship of the Chief Minister.'
The government of Pokharel was formed on February 15, 2018 in accordance to Article 168(2) that states 'If no party carries a clear majority in the Provincial Assembly for purpose of Clause (1), the Provincial Head shall appoint as Chief Minister the member of the Provincial Assembly who can attain majority of two or more than two parties represented in the Provincial Assembly.'
CPN-UML and CPN(Maoist Center) had allied for the election with a promise of unification after the election. But the parties were yet to unify as CPN when Pokharel formed what was a coalition government then.
Pokharel seems to have resigned with an intention to form a majority government under him considering the recent arithmetic in the assembly. There are 87 seats in the Lumbini assembly but six of the members including four from Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) and two from CPN (Maoist Center) have already been expelled by their respective parties.
Ruling UML has 41 members which is enough for majority in the assembly that is only 81-strong now. Lawmakers of Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) had registered the no-confidence motion on April 19 proposing Kul Prasad KC of Maoist Center as the next CM. But Pokharel inducted four JSP lawmakers into his Cabinet the same day to try to save his government who have since been expelled.
NC has 19 seats in Lumbini, and Maoist Center and JSP only 18 and two now after expelling two and four lawmakers respectively. The Khanal-Nepal faction of ruling UML has two seats in the province and the two lawmakers could have crossed the floor to vote in support of the no-confidence motion.
Pokharel, it seems, has resigned before voting on the motion could take place to ensure that a majority government is formed under him.
Had the UML duo crossed the floor Pokharel not just would have been removed but KC of Maoist Center would have automatically been appointed CM as per the constitutional provision that requires the person proposed as the next CM in the no-confidence motion being appointed the CM if the motion succeeds.
Pokharel has, therefore, resigned before voting on the motion could take place to evade the motion. The CPN-UML parliamentary party has since decided to form a new majority government under Pokharel. But the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has already claimed Pokharel cannot be reelected CM as he resigned without facing the no-confidence motion.
Governor Yadav, a formal UML leader appointed by PM Oli, can reappoint Pokharel as the CM considering the new floor arithmetic. The CM appointed as per Article 168(1) does not need to pass the floor test thereby denying the two UML lawmakers of Khanal-Nepal faction an opportunity to cross the floor.
Another no-confidence motion cannot be lodged against him for at least another year. Pokharel would argue that it cannot be registered for two years as he has become CM as per Article 168(1).