Nepal’s Supreme Court has invalidated the dissolution of Nepal’s Parliament in May this year and ordered the appointment of Nepali Congress’s Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister. Nepal has been facing a political crisis since December last year with the government of KP Oli steadily losing support both within Parliament and inside his own party CPN-UML. In fact, the Parliament was dissolved twice during this period on Oli’s advice to President Bidya Devi Bhandari, as he sought to somehow remain in power despite the odds stacking up against him.
With Deuba’s appointment now, Nepal’s apex court has clearly disapproved of Oli’s continuance as PM and the manner in which the last parliamentary dissolution happened. But Deuba too may have a tough time proving majority in Parliament within a month as he is constitutionally obliged to. After all, the Madhav Kumar Nepal faction of the CPN-UML which had backed Deuba has now decided to sever ties with the Nepali Congress alliance. This means that Deuba himself may be forced to dissolve parliament if he falls short of numbers.
All of this goes to show that Nepal’s transition to full democracy remains a work in progress. The country is still working through the constitutional incongruences that usually confront fledgling democracies. On top of this, there’s no denying that Nepal has become a hotbed for strategic competition between India and China. But New Delhi would do well to take a neutral approach to Kathmandu’s political changes and accelerate its developmental projects for Nepal. It should not fall into the same trap that it did in 2015 with its overt interference that alienated a large section of the Nepali people and pushed Kathmandu towards Beijing. India-Nepal ties are based on traditional ties of culture and people-to-people relations. These should be leveraged to take the bilateral relationship to the next level.
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