CPN-UML Chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has bought a month by agreeing to return back to the state before unification with CPN (Maoist Center) to stop the lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML from resigning.
Madhav Kumar Nepal told reporters that the chance of resignation has ended for two-four days coming out after the four-hour meeting with Oli at the residence of Rameshwore Thapa in Chapali Height, Kathmandu Thursday evening.
Nepal has briefed his faction that Oli has agreed to return back to the state before unification and take back the decision taken on March 12.
Oli can breathe easier at least for now as Nepali Congress (NC), Maoist Center and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) will not stake claims for majority government with President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
President Bhandari will now invite Oli to form government in capacity of the leader of the largest party in the House as per Article 76(3) of the Constitution.
"I have asked Oli whether he will step back from March 12 or not, and return to the day of unification or not. He has provided positive answer saying he also wants to do that," Nepal reportedly briefed his faction about the meeting. "Oli has proposed to form a task force to discuss about how to return back to the state before unification taking back the step of March 12. He has said that he is not adamant on not returning to the state before unification."
But Oli will not get more than a month to fulfill his commitment of returning back to the state before unification with Maoist Center. He will have to pass floor test within 30 days and the situation that played out on Monday can again be repeated if he does not meet the demands of dissident faction.
Nepal consulted legal professionals including Shambhu Thapa about the process to form the government as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution if Oli is ousted after a month.
The Nepal faction had held a virtual meeting of standing committee members on Tuesday and decided to resign to pave the way for majority government ending differences about whether to resign or not. The faction had even briefed NC and Maoist Center about their decision to resign and put forward its conditions to the parties for resignation.
But a few leaders of the faction by Wednesday evening again argued that they should not resign. Nepal was forced to negotiate with Oli instead of resigning on Thursday as a result.
The agreement reached between Oli and Nepal to form a task force and take decision on how to resolve the intra-party dispute in this way has bought Oli one more month.
Oli has been taking unilateral decisions in UML after the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated unification of UML with CPN (Maoist Center) on March 7 reinstating the two parties to the sate they were on the day of unification.
He held a central committee meeting of his faction on March 12 and inducted new central committee members and illegally amended party statute. He then dissolved all party committees keeping only the post of central chairman and general secretary, and replaced those committees with general convention organizing committees.
He later formed the standing committee excluding all leaders of the Khanal-Nepal faction. He had been bringing his agenda to the party meetings and getting it passed without deliberation in all meetings since March 12.
The Khanal-Nepal faction has been demanding withdrawal of the decision taken on March 12 and later to return back to the state before unification.
Oli, who was saying that the twin demands cannot be met, has expressed flexibility during the meeting on Thursday.
Nepali Congress (NC) and Maoist Center had already concluded that the possibility of forming a majority government has almost ended.
"The possibility of forming majority government with two or more than two parties has ended after the Khanal-Nepal faction of CPN-UML failed to take decision and the differences inside Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) remains," a top NC leader confided.
A Maoist leader also confirmed that the possibility of the parties staking claims for majority government has almost ended. "We have now given up hope," the Maoist leader stated.
NC and Moist Center were counting on at least 20 lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction resigning as assured by the faction until Thursday morning.
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.
UML currently has 121 lawmakers, NC 63 (but two are suspended), Maoist Center has 49 (including Speaker), JSP 34 (including two suspended) and three lawmakers are independent.
The parties will have to muster support of 136 lawmakers to form the majority government as per Article 76(2) of the Constitution.
JSP is currently divided on whether to form a government excluding UML or not. JSP leaders Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav, coming from erstwhile Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, publicly demanded toppling of Oli government and want to form a majority government with NC and Maoist Center while leaders from the erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party like Thakur and Rajendra Mahato were negotiating with Oli and are unwilling to join the alliance with NC and Maoist Center.
Thakur and Mahato on Wednesday met President Bidya Devi Bhandari and reportedly urged her to reject the proposal if another Chairman Upendra Yadav sends a letter to form majority government. They pointed that Yadav is the second-ranked chairman and the Election Commission also recognizes Thakur's signature.
More than 20 lawmakers of the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML had to resign to bring down the strength of House to ensure that the parties can muster majority even without support of the Thakur-Mahato faction of JSP.