Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has opted for floor test on May 10.
The President's Office issuing a statement Sunday evening has said House of Representatives (HoR) meeting has been called for one May 10 afternoon for vote of confidence after PM Oli as per Article 100(1) of the Constitution deemed he has to establish that the HoR has confidence in him.
CPN (Maoist Center) has been talking about withdrawing support from the government in recent times. Withdrawal of support by Maoist Center would put the Oli government in minority. The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) is also preparing to bring no-confidence motion against Oli with help from Maoist Center and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP).
The actual reason behind Oli opting for floor test has yet to be known but looking at the House arithmetic it will be very difficult for him to pass the floor test.
The current strength of HoR is 271 after Maoist Center expelled four lawmakers who joined CPN-UML after the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated unification of UML and Maoist Center on March 7.
Ruling UML currently has 121 lawmakers, NC 63 (but two are suspended), Maoist Center 49 (including Speaker), JSP 34 (including two suspended) and three lawmakers are independent.
Oli will need to get 136 votes to pass the floor test. He will need just 15 votes from outside if he can keep all lawmakers of his party united. He can easily pass the floor test if JSP supports him.
JSP is currently divided on whether to support Oli or not. JSP leaders Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav, coming from erstwhile Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, have publicly demanded toppling of Oli government while leaders from the erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party like Thakur and Rajendra Mahato have been negotiating with Oli.
The Yadav-Bhattarai faction has already taken majority decision to support no-confidence motion to be brought against Oli after the Thakur-Mahato faction refused to support no-confidence motion.
The Yadav-Bhattarai faction has 17 lawmakers and claims that the number can rise up to 22. The Thakur-Mahato faction is in minority in both the party and parliamentary party.
Oli can save his chair if he engineers split in JSP and manages to keep UML lawmakers together. He may also get help from RPP and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party that have one seats each.
But he cannot depend on his own lawmakers. He has already sought explanation from 27 lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction fearing they may abandon him. He has told his confidants and even the Thakur-Mahato faction of JSP that he believes at least 20 UML lawmakers may cross the floor against him.
"We have already assured Oli of our support. We will provide as much support as possible. His challenge is to keep his own lawmakers together," a leader of the Thakur-Mahato faction of JSP told Setopati.
Sources in the Khanal-Nepal faction claim that it has already assured NC and Maoist Center that the necessary number of lawmakers will cross the floor if a no-confidence motion were to be registered against Oli. They do not even have to cross the floor now that Oli has sought vote of confidence and merely abstain voting as the onus will be on Oli to garner 136 votes.
The faction believes Oli will be more cruel toward it the longer he remains PM.
What if Oli fails to pass the floor test?
The actual reason behind Oli opting for floor test has yet to be known but it seems he wants President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who has supported his unconstitutional steps in the past, to announce the next election under his government as per Article 76(7) of the Constitution claiming that formation of another government is not possible without exploring to see if a government can be formed as per other clauses in the Article 76.
Senior advocate and National Assembly member of Maoist Center Ram Narayan Bidari argues that Oli should automatically resign if he fails to pass the floor test on May 10. "The person who submits signatures of majority of lawmakers from two or more parties then becomes PM as per the Article 76(2). Oli will become the PM as leader of the largest party in the House as per the Article 76(3) if a coalition government cannot be formed under 76(2)," Bidari elaborated.
Bidari, however, claimed that the person who registers no-confidence motion against Oli will become PM through voting in the House if the motion is registered before the floor test on May 10.
"If a no-confidence motion is registered in the intervening period and then Oli fails the floor test, the House can discuss the no-confidence motion. The no-confidence motion mentions the name of the next PM and that person becomes PM if the motion gets majority in the House."