Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has written to President Bidya Devi Bhandari to not recognize signatures of CPN-UML House of Representatives (HoR) members who signed in support of Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Twenty-six lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML—Yogesh Bhattarai's name was included in the list but he has not signed it—have signed to form Deuba-led government in accordance to Article 76(5) of the Constitution.
Baburam Dahal, the legal advisor to PM Oli, has told Setopati that the letter has been sent as lawmakers cannot support candidate of another party in that manner. "First we will verify the signatures. The lawmakers who say they signed it will be punished," Dahal stated. "We have not taken action now. We are only saying to not recognize those signatures. Because signing in support of another candidate when one's own parliamentary party leader has staked claim is illegal."
President Bidya Devi Bhandari is currently consulting constitutional experts after Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba both staked claim for new government claiming that they have support of majority in the House of Representatives (HoR).
Oli staked claim first claiming that he has support of 153 HoR members including 121 CPN-UML lawmakers and 32 of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) just a day after telling President Bhandari to go for formation of new government in accordance to Article 76(5) of the Constitution pointing he does not have numbers to pass the floor test.
Oli had repeated that he did not opt for floor test as he does not have majority during his press conference with editors of media outlets that was broadcast live across the country less than a couple of hours before staking claim with President Bhandari saying he has support of 153 lawmakers.
NC President Deuba then reached the Shital Niwas with list of 149 lawmakers (signed by 148) including 26 lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML, 12 of the Yadav-Bhattarai faction of JSP and one from Rashtriya Janamorcha. UML lawmaker Madhav Kumar Nepal, and JSP lawmakers Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai and others who Oli claimed support him were present in person when Deuba submitted his claim.
The opposition leaders left the Shital Niwas at five in the afternoon after the deadline given by President Bhandari for formation of the new government as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution expired.
"President has said she will look at this and take a decision after consulting constitutional experts," Chairman of the federal council of JSP Bhattarai told Setopati. "There is no room for any ifs and buts as we have clear majority in the claim we submitted in accordance to 76(5)."
He argued that President Bhandari has no room for fraud in the matter as the 149 lawmakers have individually signed on the claim.
Baluwatar sources confided that Oli has staked the claim in capacity of UML parliamentary party leader, and submitted signature of JSP parliamentary party leader Rajendra Mahato on behalf of 32 JSP lawmakers. "Parties should not submit letter in 76(5), that is only for 76(2). Signatures of the lawmakers should be submitted now," Bhattarai stated.
He added that the person staking claim as per 76(5) should submit signatures to prove majority.
NC General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka also confirmed that President Bhandari said she will consult constitutional experts. He said the opposition parties told President Bhandari that Deuba should be appointed PM as they have submitted signatures of majority lawmakers.
CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal told President Bhandari to simply implement the claim of opposition parties who submitted signatures of majority of lawmakers. "Let this not be guided toward complexities. Let the politics get simple outlet," a leader quoted Dahal as telling President Bhandari.
UML leader Nepal also told President Bhandari that the country will face uneasy situation if the politics were guided toward complexities without implementing the claim supported by signatures of majority of lawmakers.
NC President Deuba, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, and JSP Chairmen Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai held discussion at the NC parliamentary party office in the Singha Durbar before leaving for the Shital Niwas.
The signatories include 26 lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML and 12 of the Yadav-Bhattarai faction of JSP.
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 including those of the Khanal-Nepal faction, 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 for majority.