Explained: The Political Crisis in Nepal

On December 20th, K P Sharma Oli, the Prime Minister of Nepal dissolved the Lower House Parliament of the country in an unprecedented move. This led to huge protests all over the country. The government has two years left in its five-year term.

Introduction

Protests have been looming over the world in recent years. They have become the new status quo. They affect society and governments in various ways. Governments are becoming purposeless. Democracy is lost. Free speech is curbed and dissent is fading away. The symbols of democracy are now a threat to it. Every life is at stake. Nonetheless, the political dramas do not seem to wane. The political innuendos always win in the battle against democracy. The governments are toppled and it leads to a political crisis. Political crises are taking over the world. All this makes one wonder if we would be better off without a government ruling us. But anarchy would lead to other devastating consequences, which we cannot comprehend. Country after country is undermining democracy. There is a lot at stake besides politics and individual benefits. The political parties are running behind power.

Political System in Nepal

The political system in Nepal has been quite muddled since the beginning. It has been through a lot of tussles before reaching where it is now. The first issue with the country’s political system is the monarchy. The kingdom has been on a long journey to attain a democratic political system. The 1950 crisis led to reforms which claimed for democracy. Since then the journey has been a rough patch. The crown has jeopardised the democratic political system many times. In the 1990s the political parties were given freedom. The monarchy was still in existence but the executive power was vested with the council of ministers led by the Prime minister.

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The next big step in the system came in the early 21st century. This is the period when monarchy lost its power. An interim constitution was promulgated in 2007 and the country was declared a republic. Then the constitutional assembly was elected in 2008. After many hurdles the Constitution came into existence in 2015. Presently the country is an independent, sovereign, socialist secular and federal democratic republican state. It has a parliamentary form of government. There are two major political parties in the country, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the Seven Party Alliance (SPA). 

The Background

The office of president announced the dissolution on 20th of December. The elections are held in two phases this year. They are to be held on April 30th and May 10th which is one year before the scheduled period. Oli will be continuing as the PM till then. Thousands of people took to the roads to disapprove the decision. People and experts called the move unconstitutional and undemocratic. The main reason cited for this instability is the tension within the party. NCP came to power in 2018 and KPS Oli became the Prime Minister for the second time. There have been internal tussles since then. NCP was the biggest coalition of two major communist parties in the country.

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The power-sharing agreement between the parties was always an issue of concern. The fractions have been in disagreement over many matters even during the pandemic. This further indicated the tumultuous situation in the ruling party, leaving its leader in a difficult position. In April 2020 the Prime Minister issued two ordinances which further fuelled the differences. The ordinances were relating to the Constitutional council and political parties. There was a lot of pressure from the ruling party itself to revoke the ordinances. In December 2020 there was another ordinance issued. It reduced the quorum required for the constitutional council meet. Following which seven ministers resigned stating that dissolution was against public mandate and stability. As a result of this instability many petitions were filed in the apex court. The constitutional bench will hear the petitions on January 6. 

Analysis of the Crisis and its Factors

There are many factors at play in the current scenario. There is always a lot of blame game going on between the parties in the country. Since the dissolution, the Prime Minister has defended the move. He says the move was inevitable and supports it by doctrine of necessity. He further states that it is not subject to judicial review and it is the only way to maintain the government. The court has a different view on the same. The final decision lies with the courts. But the PM has time and again claimed that the house cannot be restored. This is very disrespectful to the constitutional machinery in the country.

The country has been longing for stability. This political vulnerability triggered pro-monarchy demonstrations across the country. The country has gone through a lot to reach a democratic republican state. These insecure situations undermine democracy and would soon take back the country to a constitutional monarchy again. But now is not the time to plunge. It is for the people and leaders to fight for constitution and democracy. This is not the first time Nepalis are facing such an instability. But this time it created such an uproar as there is a constitution protecting the country against such a crisis.

One of the main reasons for the dissolution was the internal dynamics of the party. The PM has the power to dissolve the Parliament only when all the means of a stable government are exhausted. When there is no alternate government. But that is not the case in the present scenario. The dissolution is triggered as a result of failure of leadership. The dissidence from the party prompted the move. He chose to go to people for the mandate rather than surrender to the dissent. This crisis put the democratic future of the country in shambles. This vulnerability put the political system as a prey to the power greedy nations surrounding the country. Nepal is always in a very tense geopolitical situation.

The two giants, India and China definitely have serious roles to play in the instability caused. This instability is both a boon and a hit back to China more than India. China has a lot more to lose than any other country because of the resources and time invested. Which is why to bag in the whole situation a Chinese delegation has arrived soon after the dissolution. They were very tight lipped about the arrival. The stated the purpose of arrival is to assess the whole situation. On the whole, foreign nations are meddling with national politics. Another reason to widen the gap is due to the changing nation’s relation with India. The faction led by Prachanda is more pro-India. Whereas in Oli’s period as the Prime Minister, China has been dominating the politics. The alliance was considered as the extension of China’s communist party.

Conclusion

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There might be a lot of reasons for the political fragility and instability. As a result the world should not lose a democratic country to monarchy or anarchism. The political leaders should be careful and try to avoid such instability. The tussle among members cannot be settled by people’s vote. Elections during a pandemic is a dangerous issue. Especially when the resources are very less. The new year should hold something good for the nation. Hopefully, in this year Nepal should truly be a sovereign country. It should handle the reigns of its political system rather than any other country. Long live democracy in the nation and in the world.


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