Binod Ghimire, The Kathamandu Post, 12 March 2018
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli secured a three-fourths majority at the 275-member strong House of Representatives, emerging as the most powerful executive head of the nation in the post-1990 period.
In the vote of confidence motion tabled at Parliament on Sunday, Oli garnered 208 votes out of the total 268 cast. The vote share is over 77 percent when the total vote cast is taken into account and is 75 percent against the total strength of the House.
Among the nine parties and an independent present in the Lower House, six parties including an independent, voted for Oli while the Nepali Congress was the only one which stood in the opposition.
Out of the total 63 NC lawmakers, 60 who were present in the House voted against the motion.
Baburam Bhattarai of the Naya Shakti Party-Nepal was absent, while Prem Suwal of the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party abstained from the voting process.
PM Oli secured the trust vote 24 days after being appointed the head of the government as per the constitutional provision. Article 73 of the constitution stipulates that the PM, who has been appointed as the executive head with the support of two or more parties, secure the vote of confidence from the HoR within 30 days of his appointment to the post. President Bidya Devi Bhandari had on February 15 appointed CPN-UML Chairman Oli who also secured the support of CPN (Maoist Centre) as the PM of the country.
Two regional parties--Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal--which had a strained relationship with the UML due to latter’s strong position over the constitution amendment also threw their weight behind PM Oli.
The opposition hardly has 23 percent share in the House. That means the main opposition is short of 25 percent votes required to call a House session when it is not functioning and to initiate an impeachment process.
“I never had an illusion that our government could be autocratic. I am for garnering two-thirds majority to give a message of unity,” PM Oli told the House, while answering queries from the NC lawmakers. “I believe in results and you will experience this in my tenure.”
Leaders from all the parties representing at the HoR had put their views for and against the motion.
In his address, PM Oli claimed that the government’s only target is to attain prosperity and development and bring about changes in the lives of poor and marginalised communities. He said he has no excuses for non-performance. “I want to assure the NC leaders that I will be accountable and answerable to everything I do and commit,” the PM added.
Earlier, Congress leader Gagan Thapa had argued that PM Oli’s countdown had began and his party would regularly seek an answer to government’s commitments and deeds in the House. Thapa had expressed doubt that trying to have a two-thirds majority in the House might turn Oli and his party autocratic. He had argued that the focus should be on strengthening democratic institution rather than an individual. “We hear that PM is aspiring to become Lee Kuan Yew or Mahathir Mohamad. This is not what we are looking for,” he said.
Also putting his views, former prime minister and CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the present government has got a historic opportunity to prove itself. “People supported our agenda of stability, good governance, development and prosperity. Now it’s time to cut down on speeches and let our action do the talking,” he said. The RJP-N and SSF-N leaders said they were supporting PM Oli with a hope to work towards increasing the acceptability of the statute through amendment.