Same difference: Deuba follows Oli’s suit as he introduces ordinance to ease division of political parties

The Cabinet led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba passed an ordinance related to Political Party Act on Tuesday. The ordinance allows a split in a political party with the support of just 20 percent central committee members or parliamentary party members.

The Cabinet’s move came a day after the Deuba-led government prorogued the Parliament. Deuba followed the suit of his predecessor KP Sharma Oli, who earned notoriety for repeatedly proroguing the Parliament and trying to run the country through ordinances.

On 20 April 2020, the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had also introduced a similar to facilitate the party split. At that time, his ordinance provisioned split in a political party with the support of 40 percent central committee members or parliamentary party members.

As per the current provisions of Political Parties Act-2017, any group can register a new party if it can show it has control over 40 percent members of the Central Committee and the Parliamentary Party. The ordinance has changed it to 20 percent, and the “and” provision has been changed to “or”.

The Oli government’s ordinance had kept the requirement of the number of members at 40 percent and sought to change the “and” provision to “or”.

Oli, however, was forced to withdraw the ordinance within three days of implementation after strong opposition from within the then ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal had protested against the ordinance at that time.

The latest move by the Deuba-led government is aimed to benefit the Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhalanath Khanal faction of CPN-UML, whose support is crucial for the government’s survival.

At present, UML is on the verge of split as party leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal are miffed with party chair KP Sharma Oli for his unilateral manner of ruling.

Since the Nepal-Khanal faction of UML currently lack 40 per cent support in both the parliamentary party and the central committee, the government is said to have brought the ordinance to facilitate the UML’s split.

This means that the Nepal-Khanal faction can split the party without losing parliamentary seats.

The Cabinet has forwarded the ordinance to President Bidya Devi Bhandariand is likely be promulgated today.

The government’s move has been opposed not only by opposition UML but also by Shekhar Koirala of the ruling Nepali Congress. He tweeted, “The ordinance might have been brought with the aim to comfortably run the government, but the idea of running the government through an ordinance cannot be supported. This is not the culture of the Nepali Congress.”