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Nepal Reclaims Its Constitutional Glory

It began with the unprecedented upheaval in the Himalayan Country which set forth to establish a robust democratic tradition after the tumultuous years of struggle. Nepal soon reclaims its constitutional glory after the period of anarchy under the gullible KP. Sharma Oli. Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba secured a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives. Nepal's quest for stability and economic growth must begin now. PM Deuba holds the promise and India is already on his mind--repair and build together.

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It began with the unprecedented upheaval in the Himalayan Country which set forth to establish a robust democratic tradition after the tumultuous years of struggle. A struggle that almost ravaged the south Asian country. 

A nascent democracy but a history so epochal that the kingdom of Nepal was never colonized and marveled its history of independence and glory. Except that for the brief Period of gullible K. P Sharma Oli who become Prime Minister only to break that glorious tradition.

He did something that was much beyond the constitutional sanctity of Nepal. Continue dissolving parliament is one political game plan but the fact that he allowed a foreign diplomat—a Chinese ambassador—to preside over the internal party meeting and let the ambassador dictate in subversive internal political maneuvering is unprecedented; a blot he left on the emerging Nepal democracy.

Nepal soon reclaims its constitutional glory. Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba secured a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives. Deuba’s appointment ends KP Sharma Oli’s three-and-a-half-year-long tenure as prime minister.  Nepali Congress was joined by most other parties to oust the K.P Sharma Oli. Deuba’s Nepal Congress secured 165 votes in the vote in the 271-member House of Representatives or Lower House on Sunday evening. Only the bunch of 83 MPs, mostly supporters of CPN-UML chair and outgoing premier KP Sharma Oli, voted against Deuba. A total of 136 votes were required for Deuba to win Parliament's confidence.

On July 12, in a historic decision, a five-member Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for the second time in five months. The precedent that the Nepal’s Supreme Court has set in, will lay the strongest foundation in the quest for stability in Nepali politics in the times to come.

On May 22, the Lower House was unconstitutionally dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari for the second time in five months at the recommendation of then Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. Not only it was marked unconstitutional but seen as the blatant disregard her position as the President as she made mockery of her constitutional authority.  

Even as Deuba was taking oath as the Prime Minister, the Office of the President’s statement that did not mention the constitutional provision under which Deuba was appointed the prime minister. Sources told the author that the President Bidya Devi Bhandari chose to delay the process. Such pettiness at the highest office has hurt Nepali politics that led to such crises until now. Deuba now has to secure a vote of confidence in the restored House by August 12, as per Article 76 (6) of the constitution which has laid down the clear-cut mandate and guidelines.

Who is the new prime Minister?

Sher Bahadur Deuba has had four previous stints as the prime minister of Nepal –first, in 1995 and he served until March 12, 1997. He again became the prime minister on July 26, 2001.  But in 2002, after having dissolved the parliament, he was sacked by then Gyanendra on the flimsy reason. King Gyanendra againg appointed Deuba prime minister on June 4, 2004, after two governments in two years. Again, under the same circumstances, Deuba was sacked by Gyanendra on February 1, 2005. Gyanendra usurped power. Later, he was deposed on 28 May 2008, declaring the nation as the Democratic Republic of Nepal. With that came the end of Kingdom and its 240-year reign of the Shah Dynasty. 

Deuba managed to return to power once again in 2017 when he was appointed prime minister on June 7 with the support of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). He served until February 15, 2018, until K.P. Sharma Oli took over after his party the CPN-UML swept the 2017 elections.

India on his mind

So much of water has flown in since the K. P Oli began his salvo against India what many would wonder as the unnecessary jibes. It hurt India- Nepal relations. That has begun heal as quickly as it seems with new government at place.

New prime minister took to twitter soon after taking hold of the Office: “I had cordial telephone conversation with Prime Minister @narendramodi. This afternoon. We shared views on further strengthening bilateral ties. PM Modi assured early supply of Covid Vaccines to Nepal. I thanked him for his warm words of congratulations.”

While PM Modi took no time as he immediately congratulated Deuba after he won a vote of confidence in the reinstated House of Representatives on Sunday night. In a tweet Modi said, "Congratulations Prime Minister @DeubaSherbdr and best wishes for a successful tenure. I look forward to working with you to further enhance our unique partnership in all sectors, and strengthen our deep-rooted people-to-people ties."

India and Nepal are not only neighbours, but they are also very closely linked culturally, socially and historically. Despite the unsavory verbose by K.P Sharma Oli, Nepal was among the first the countries to receive doses of Covid19 vaccines. In fact, Nepal has received 3.2 million doses of vaccines against the coronavirus in grants from friendly countries. Nepal also received another one million additional vaccines to start the drive against spread of the coronavirus which was to be procured from India under the ‘purchase clause’.

“There are not many issues that could not be resolved with Nepal,’’ said a Senior Nepali leader. In fact barring a minor stretch of border issues, India- Nepal bilateral relations are ever growing in terms of grant and assistance from India to Nepal towards the development of infrastructure and other critical areas. 

In recent years, India has been assisting Nepal in development of border infrastructure through upgradation of 10 roads in the Terai area; development of cross-border rail links at Jogbani-Biratnagar, Jaynagar-Bardibas; and establishment of Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj. The total economic assistance earmarked under ‘Aid to Nepal’ budget in FY 2019-20 was INR 1200 crore. In all sphere, India must continue assisting Nepal under spirit of Neibourhood first. India is the largest trading partner of Nepal. Total bilateral trade in 2018-19 reached INR 57,858 cr (US$ 8.27 bn). 

Nepal shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Out of such vast stretch of border, only a fraction of 1% which need to be resolved. In tersm of the legacy issue, the India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal. Nepalese citizens avail facilities and opportunities on par with Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. Nearly 8 million Nepalese citizens live and work in India. Treaty is under the reconsideration and it is to seen how quickly Deuba absorbs the spirit of such foundational pact. 

Meanwhile, it is fair to announce that Nepal has reclaimed its constitutional glory. Work must begin to rebuild the broken economy as the tiny nation in the South Asia holds much promise. 

 Mount Everest (Reuters)