Nepal PM ‘Prachanda’ terminates alliance with Nepali Congress, reshuffles cabinet

PM forged a new alliance with ex-premier Oli’s party

Nepal cabinet reshuffle (FILE) Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, delivers a speech before a confidence vote at the parliament in Kathmandu, Nepal | Reuters

Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' on Monday reshuffled the Cabinet after terminating a nearly 15-month partnership with the Nepali Congress due to major differences between their top leadership, in a dramatic development in the politically fragile Himalayan nation.

Prachanda, a former guerilla leader, forged a new alliance with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) - the second-biggest party - led by former premier KP Sharma Oli following which three ministers took the oath of office and secrecy on Monday.

Padam Giri from the CPN-UML, Hit Bahadur Tamang from CPN (Maoist Center) and Dol Prasad Aryal from Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) took the oath of office and secrecy during the oath-taking ceremony held at the President's Office, Sheetal Niwas. However, the newly appointed ministers have not been assigned portfolios.

Prime Minister Prachanda has kept 25 ministerial portfolios including those of Home, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Finance with himself.

The new political equation formed by keeping the largest party and the strongest democratic force - Nepali Congress - out of power and bringing together the two largest communist forces may not be in the interest of India, according to senior journalist and political analyst Dhruva Hari Adhikary.

The collective strength of 142 of CPN-UML, Maoist, RSP and JSP is more than the minimum required no of 138 seats in the 275-member House.

The alliance between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) led by Prachanda and the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led Nepali Congress was terminated as the growing differences between the two top leaders reached a climax, a CPN-Maoist Centre party leader said.

"As (the) Nepali Congress did not cooperate with the Prime Minister, we are forced to look for (a) new alliance, Ganesh Shah, Secretary of the CPN-Maoist, told PTI.

Prachanda became the prime minister for the third term with the support of the Nepali Congress on December 25, 2022. His party is the only third-largest group in the House of Representatives.

After breaking the alliance with the Nepali Congress --the largest party in the House of Representatives-- Prachanda joined hands with Oli, who was regarded as Prachanda's top critic.

Last year, the CPN-UML withdrew its support to the Prachanda-led government following a rift over backing the main opposition party's candidate for the presidential poll.

The rift between the Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress grew after differences grew between Nepali Congress leader and Finance Minister Mahat and Prachanda over the issue of budget allocation to certain projects.

The rift grew as Nepali Congress President Deuba wanted the party's senior leader and newly elected lawmaker Krishna Sitaula to be made the Chairman of the National Assembly against Prachanda's plan to appoint his party's fellow to the key post.

The frequent changes in coalition government lead to political instability, which is not in favour of the neighbouring countries, Adhikary said.

Nepal has witnessed 13 governments in the last 16 years.

As Prachanda's alliance with the Nepali Congress did not last for more than a year, we cannot be sure that this coalition will last for a longer period, he told PTI.

Earlier Monday, Prachanda held a meeting with CPN-UML chairman Oli at the PM's residence Baluwatar. During the meeting, the two top leaders decided to form a new alliance and a new government under the leadership of Maoist chairman Prachanda.

"The two leaders discussed the formation of a new government, a future course of action and possible leftist alliance among others," according to sources close to Baluwatar.

Soon after the meeting, leaders of three political parties, including Prime Minister Prachanda, CPN-UML chairman Oli and Rastriya Swatantra Party's (RSP) Ravi Lamichhane met at Baluwatar and discussed the modality of the new alliance and the formation of the new government.

Nepali Congress emerged as the largest party in the House of Representatives during the November 2022 general election, securing 89 seats out of a total of 275.

The CPN-UML secured 78 seats, followed by the Maoist Centre, which got 32 seats.

The RSP, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Janata Samajwadi Party and CPN-Unified Socialist won 20, 14, 12 and 10 seats respectively. A party must win the support of at least 138 members of the House of Representatives to form the government.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress Central Work Execution Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss contemporary political issues.

CPN-UML, the second largest party in Parliament, will be a major alliance for the Prachanda-led new government.

In the 2017 election, Prachanda and Oli merged their parties and secured the majority. Oli became the prime minister, but their partnership ended halfway following differences between them.



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