Nepal polls | Nepali Congress-led alliance maintains lead

An election commission staff member in Nepal separates ballot papers to count a day after the general election in Kathmandu. Once all votes are counted, the 275 elected members of Parliament will chose a prime minister who will have to get the support of half the chamber
| Photo Credit: AP

As the counting of votes in Nepal’s parliamentary election is on, the country’s top leaders have initiated efforts to explore possibilities for the formation of a new government to end the political instability that has plagued the Himalayan nation for more than a decade.

Elections to the House of Representatives (HoR) and seven provincial assemblies were held on Sunday. The counting of votes started on Monday.

Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) (CPN-UML) chairman K. P. Oli on Thursday called CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpakamal Dahal Prachanda and the two leaders congratulated each other on getting elected to the HoR.

Prime Minister and Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba also telephoned Mr. Prachanda and Mr. Oli to congratulate them on their victory. All three top leaders have been elected to the HoR after registering victories in the election.

During their telephonic conversation, Mr. Oli offered Mr. Prachanda to move ahead by forging collaboration in the process of forming the new government, a source close to Prachanda said.

However, Mr. Prachanda only congratulated Oli on winning the election with a huge margin but did not specifically respond to his offer. Mr. Prachanda said he will take an appropriate decision after all the election results are out, the source said.

After parting with Mr. Oli some 18-months ago, Mr. Prachanda took the side of Nepali Congress president Mr. Deuba and forged a five-party alliance government under the leadership of Mr. Deuba.

The speculation is rife that with the CPN-UML performing poorly in the election, party chairman Mr. Oli might work out a strategy to woo Mr. Prachanda in the name of leftist unity to form the coalition government. Mr. Oli is well-known for his political maneuvering.

However, Politburo member of CPN-MC Sunil Manandhar ruled out the possibility of breaking the Nepali Congress-led ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Deuba.

Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress has maintained its lead in the election, winning 44 seats, followed by the CPN-UML which bagged 35 seats. The CPN-MC and CPN-US have won 14 and 10 seats respectively.

The five-party ruling alliance has so far secured 73 seats while the Oli-led three-party alliance has secured 43 seats.

In the 275-member House of Representatives, 165 will be elected through direct voting, while the remaining 110 will be elected through a proportional electoral system. A party or a coalition needs 138 seats for a clear majority.

Political instability has been a recurrent feature of Nepal’s Parliament since the end of the decade-long Maoist insurgency, and no prime minister has served a full term after the civil war ended in 2006.

The frequent changes and fighting among parties have been blamed for the country’s slow economic growth.

There are two major political alliances contesting the polls — the ruling Nepali Congress-led democratic and leftist alliance and the CPN-UML-led leftist and pro-Hindu, pro-monarchy alliance.

The next government will face challenges of keeping a stable political administration, reviving the tourism industry and balancing ties with neighbours — China and India.

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