Mountain Tremors

The aftershocks of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the lower house of Nepal’s parliament and call for early elections are still being felt.

By Taha Kehar | April 2021


For months, a series of political tremors have shaken the foundation of Nepal’s nascent federal democratic state. In December 2020, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, urged Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari to unilaterally dissolve the lower house of parliament and announce fresh elections.

The move is a direct consequence of a factional disagreement within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) over the withdrawal of an ordinance to change the provisions of the Constitutional Council Act.

Oli’s unwillingness to resist authoritarian impulses earned the ire of democratic forces and culminated in protests. The NCP, which is a coalition of Maoist and Marxist-Leninist groups, led by the prime minister, found itself in the grip of a leadership crisis.

Over the last few months, factional infighting has intensified and chaos has crept into Nepal’s political arena. Friction within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) -- the Oli-led United Marxist-Leninists and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s Maoist Centre -- has been a prevalent feature of national politics since the 2018 elections. After Oli’s constitutional coup, these factional tensions have morphed into an intense struggle for the seat of power.

Oli has vehemently criticized the Prachanda-led faction’s attempt to oust him and maintained that he will not resign from public office. Driven by ill-disguised optimism, Oli believes that he will obtain a two-thirds majority in the subsequent elections if he is ousted. Meanwhile, Prachanda has made consistent efforts to woo opposition parties such as the Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajbadi Party to rid the nation of an autocratic premier.

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