Veteran politician KP Sharma Oli was on Sunday elected as the next Prime Minister of Nepal defeating incumbent Sushil Koirala in a contest which became necessary after parties failed to forge a consensus amid violent protests over the country’s new Constitution. In voting held in Parliament here, CPN-UML chairman Oli garnered 338 votes, 39 more than the 299 that he needed to be elected as Nepal’s 38th prime minister while Nepali Congress president Koirala could only secure 249 votes. A total of 587 members had cast their votes. Lawmakers were not allowed to stay neutral during the voting.
While Oli was backed by UCPN-Maoist, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic and some fringe parties; four Madhes parties in the United Democratic Madhesi Front had supported NC leader Koirala who himself became prime minister with the support from CPN-UML in 2014. 63-year-old Oli was elected chief of the CPN-UML last year. He was chief of party’s International Department before being elected to the top position of the party. Oli served as the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Girija Prasad Koirala-led interim government formed immediately after the 2006 People’s Movement.
Back in 1994, he was the Minister for Home Affairs in the Cabinet led by the then UML Chairman Manmohan Adhikari. He was elected a member of the Parliament thrice in 1991, 1994 and 1999 from various constituencies of Jhapa district from where he began his political career in 1966. Oli takes over as prime minister at a crucial time as Nepal has been wracked by violent political protests by Madhesi people protesting against the new Constitution. The country has also been locked in a diplomatic standoff with India over the supply of essential goods, including petroleum products, which has been hit due to blockade of border trade points with India following the violence.
At least 40 people have died in over a month of clashes between police and protesters from the Madhesi and Tharu communities and ethnic minorities. The agitating Madhesi Front claims that the Constitution does not guarantee enough rights and representation to the Madhesi and Tharu communities residing in southern Nepal. Madhesis are Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai region bordering India who are also opposed to splitting Nepal into seven provinces.