Formation of NC-UML coalition pushes Lumbini govt into crisis

Binod Pariyar 03 Jul 2024
Formation of NC-UML coalition pushes Lumbini govt into crisis

LUMBINI: The Lumbini Province Government led by CPN (Maoist Center) has fallen into crisis following the signing of a new power-sharing agreement between the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML at the center.

Jokh Bahadur Mahara, who previously served as Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s personal secretary, was appointed Chief Minister of Lumbini Province on April 5. However, less than three months into his tenure, Mahara’s government is facing a crisis due to the shift in the power equation at the center. Mahara’s government will fall into the minority once UML withdraws its support. UML has neither withdrawn its support to Prime Minister Dahal, nor recalled its ministers.

Since Ambika Kafle of Janata Samajbadi Party, Nepal (JSP Nepal) withdrew her support to Chief Minister Mahara on June 23, Mahara will have to face the province assembly within 30 days from that date. However, he is unlikely to pass the floor test given the change in the power equation at the center.

Bhandari Lal Ahir of JSP Nepal, however, is serving as agriculture minister in the province government.

Mahara was appointed Chief Minister with the support of 48 province assembly members of five parties including UML. He had the support of 29 members from UML, 10 from the Maoist Center, four from Nagarik Unmukti, three from JSP, one from CPN (Unified Socialist) and one independent member.

The provincial committee of UML has begun a discussion on whether to recall its ministers or withdraw support extended to Mahara. “The power equation at the center has changed. The provincial government will be formed accordingly,” UML’s Chief Whip in the Lumbini Province Assembly, Tulasi Chaudhary, said. “While we are not in favor of changing the power equation in the province immediately, we will have to act as per the center’s instructions.”

Chaudhary said it would be easy if Chief Minister Mahara himself stepped down given the changed power equation at the center.

As per the understanding reached between NC and UML, UML will lead the province government in Lumbini.

Maoist Center leaders in Lumbini say they are in a wait-and-watch mood. “We are waiting for the decision of the UML which is the largest partner in the ruling coalition,” Indrajit Chaudhary, the chief whip of Maoist Center in Lumbini Province Assembly, said. “Our view is that provincial governments shouldn’t act like a shadow of the federal government. We will hold discussions with other parties to make this government a consensus government.”

Lumbini has seen three chief ministers since the 2022 election. Lila Giri of CPN-UML led the UML-Maoist Center coalition government after the election. However, Dilli Raj Chaudhary of the Nepali Congress became the chief minister following the formation of the NC-Maoist Center alliance in the center.

Mahara has been leading the UML-Maoist Center government in the province since April.

Nima Giri, chief whip of NC in Lumbini, said the NC-UML coalition will form a new government in Lumbini. “We have begun discussions to form a new government as per the coalition formed at the center,” Giri said.

NC and UML have 56 members in the 87-member province assembly which is a comfortable majority.

Published On: 03 Jul 2024


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