Deadline to stake claim for new govt formation expiring today, will NC-led alliance muster majority?

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KATHMANDU, May 13: The deadline given by President Bidya Devi Bhandari to the political parties to stake a claim to form a majority government is coming to an end. 

After Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli lost a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives (HoR) on Monday, President Bhandari asked the political parties to form a majority government as per Article 76 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal, by 9 PM, Thursday.

Opposition parties including the Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center) and Janta Samajbadi Party (JSP)’s Upendra Yadav faction have expedited negotiations to ensure the support of the majority  of lawmakers and put forth their claim to form a new government.  JSP’s Thakur-Mahato faction, however, said that it would not support the opposition alliance in forming a new government. 

Nepali Congress President, Sher Bahadur Deuba has been holding a series of dialogues with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, JSP Chairman Upendra Yadav and  CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Nepal among others. 

After JSP Chairman Mahanta Thakur and senior leader Rajendra Mahato engaged in an exercise to prevent the opposition alliance in reaching a majority, party’s Federal Council Chairman Baburam Bhattarai has expedited intra-party discussions to formulate a unified policy of the party. 

Lawmakers of a  faction of the ruling UML, led by leader Nepal, are also preparing to resign en masse to ease the opposition alliance to reach a majority. 

If the Thakur-Mahato faction of the JSP does not agree to support a new government, the opposition alliance is expecting to secure a majority with the help of the resignation of the UML’s Nepal faction.

If the opposition parties fail to present the alternative coalition by 9 PM today, President Bhandari will reappoint KP Oli, who is the parliamentary party leader of the largest party in parliament, as the minority prime minister in accordance with Article 76 (3) of the constitution. 

Bal Krishna Khan, Chief Whip of the Congress parliamentary party, said that efforts are underway in order to reach a majority under Deuba's leadership by the stipulated time frame.  "The negotiations with the parties are moving ahead on a positive note,” said he, adding that decisive talks will be held today.

The NC has 61 while Maoist has 49 lawmakers in the 275-member House of Representatives. As the four seats in the lower house of parliament have fallen vacant, NC President Duba needs at least 136 lawmakers' support which is impossible unless the JSP, which has 32 lawmakers, extends its support. Deuba can also form a majority government if the UML lawmakers close to the Nepal faction resign.

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