At a time Nepal is struggling with Covid-19, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led government on April 20 introduced an ordinance to relax the provision of party split. The ordinance has changed some provisions of the Political Parties Act.
According to new provisions, a new party can be registered at the Election Commission with 40 percent support either in parliamentary party or in party central committee. President Bidya Devi Bhandari issued the ordinance on the cabinet’s recommendation. Earlier, there was the provision of 40 percent support both in parliamentary party as well as the central committee for party split.
The ordinance came at a time when there is news of growing rift inside the ruling Nepal Communist Party. The NCP leaders, however, say the change won’t affect the dynamics of ruling parties.
It is unclear why government amended the law at a time the country is concentrating its efforts on fighting the coronavirus. The provision, however, makes it easy for rival factions of ruling parties to break off.
There are speculations the new ordinance is aimed at engineering a divide among Madhes-based parties. It is rumored that some members of the two main Madhesi parties—the Samajbadi Party and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal—want to join the government.
Samajbadi leader Upendra Yadav and RJPN’s Rajendra Mahato both said that although the new ordinance was apparently brought to weaken them, the move could backfire on the ruling parties.
Oli’s decision invited criticism from his own and opposition parties. In the cabinet meeting, ministers from former Maoist party objected to the PM’s proposal. Similarly, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali also opposed it. PM Oli, however, insisted on the proposal’s passage saying that it would not affect NCP dynamics. The main opposition Nepali Congress, in its preliminary reaction, termed the timing of the move ‘inappropriate’.