October 19, 2023
KATHMANDU – Newly elected Chief Minister of Koshi Province Kedar Karki secured a vote of confidence in the provincial assembly on Wednesday.
Nepali Congress lawmaker Karki, who had revolted against the party’s decision to support a Maoist lawmaker for chief minister, passed the floor test with an overwhelming support of the provincial assembly. A total of 86 members voted in favour of Karki in the 93-strong assembly.
Deputy Speaker of the provincial assembly Sirjana Danuwar presented the vote of confidence motion in the assembly. Thirty-nine members from the CPN-UML, 29 from the Nepali Congress, 13 from the CPN (Maoist Centre), four from the CPN (Unified Socialist) and one from the Janata Samajbadi Party voted in favour of the motion filed to seek a vote of confidence for the newly appointed chief minister. Five of the six Rastriya Prajatantra Party lawmakers voted against the motion while one member of the party was absent. The member chairing the assembly cannot vote.
On October 14, Karki was appointed chief of the province as per Article 168(5) of the constitution as he proved the majority in favour of his candidacy for the post. Karki had produced the signatures of 47 lawmakers—eight from his party and 39 from the UML—before Province Head Parshuram Khapung on Friday.
Only seven lawmakers from his party, the Nepali Congress, had supported him at the time of his appointment. But on Wednesday all Congress lawmakers gave the trust vote. Karki on Sunday took an oath of office and secrecy and formed a three-member Cabinet. He appointed UML deputy provincial assembly leader Ram Bahadur Thapa and Congress lawmaker Shumsher Rai as ministers without portfolio. The chief minister decided to face a trust vote soon to formalise the support of the UML.
While speaking at the assembly meeting before Wednesday’s vote, UML provincial assembly leader and former chief minister Hikmat Karki said his party decided to vote for Karki to avert a mid-term election and bring political stability to the province.
As per the constitution, confidence motion cannot be brought against him for the next two years.
Article 188(4) states, “Provided that a motion of no confidence may not be tabled until the first two years after the appointment of the Chief Minister and until another one year after the date of failure of the motion of no confidence once tabled.”
However, if one of the political parties withdrew support ahead of that, the chief minister has to prove the majority within 30 days of the withdrawal of the support.
The UML leader asserted that the ruling alliance’s decision in the centre with regard to making a chief minister in a province was against the spirit of federalism. “The establishment faction of the Nepali Congress and the Maoist were not ready to support us to form the new government. The UML publicly urged any party to lead the government. Kedar Karki finally came to us and said that he was ready to lead the government. So our party decided to support him as per the legal and constitutional provisions of the country,” he added.
Similarly, Congress leader and former chief minister Uddhav Thapa said that all the congress assembly members decided to vote in favour of the motion in the changed political context. “Our party’s eight lawmakers [who had earlier revolted] have returned home after winning a political battle. The party decided to support him without any second thought,” said Thapa.
Kedar Karki is the eighth chief minister of Koshi Province since the 2017 elections first formed provincial governments. Karki’s appointment is the fifth since the assembly election in 2022. After that, Hikmat Karki of the UML and Uddhav Thapa of the Congress were each appointed chief minister twice but their governments collapsed as they failed to secure the trust vote.