Sher Bahadur Deuba was sworn in as prime minister |(PM) Tuesday evening only after the President’s Office included the article of the Constitution in the appointment letter.

The appointment letter issued by the President’s Office in the afternoon mentioned that Deuba has been appointed PM as per the Supreme Court (SC) verdict of Monday and did not mention the Article 76(5) of the Constitution in accordance to which the Apex Court ordered appointment of Deuba as PM.

Deuba was not happy with the language of the letter and insisted that the article of the Constitution should be mentioned as he has been appointed in accordance to the Constitution.

Deuba’s secretariat contacted Tika Dhakal, communication expert to President Bidya Devi Bhandari, through leaders and asked for mention of the article.

A source close to Deuba confides that Deuba summoned Chief Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi and demanded for correction of the language when it was not corrected even after waiting for some time.

Deuba was invited to the Shital Niwas for the swearing-in ceremony at six in the evening but he left his residence in Buadhanilkantha only at around 6:30 putting a condition that the letter should be corrected.

But the letter was not corrected even when Deuba reached the Shital Niwas. Deuba and other top leaders who reached the Shital Niwas for the swearing-in ceremony then sought time to discuss the issue with President Bhandari.

“President Bhandari at first insisted that the language of appointment letter need not be corrected,” said Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) Chairman Upendra Yadav who talked with President Bhandari along with newly appointed PM Deuba, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Senior Leader of CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal. “President Bhandari then summoned secretary and instructed to correct the language only after Deuba took a stand that he will not take oath if the article of the Constitution is not mentioned.”

The master of swearing-in ceremony then announced that Deuba has been appointed PM as per the SC’s mandamus and Article 76(5) of the Constitution.

A leader close to Deuba claimed that Deuba took the oath only after receiving the letter in Nepali paper (Lokta paper) that mentioned he has been appointed PM as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution. The letter has yet to be made public but the leader contended that Deuba has kept the letter with him.

President’s communication expert Dhakal corroborated that the letter handed over to Deuba mentions Article 76(5) of the Constitution. “PM was given the letter mentioning Article 76(5) of the Constitution after he talked with President Bhandari. He agreed to take oath after that,” he added.

The row over language of the letter made for an uneasy beginning of the relationship between PM Deuba and President Bhandari so much so that she left without even congratulating Deuba after administering oath of office and secrecy.

NC President Deuba had reached the Shital Niwas with list of 149 House of Representatives (HoR)  members including 26 lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction of CPN-UML, 12 of the Yadav-Bhattarai faction of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) and one from Rashtriya Janamorcha on May 21 staking claim for formation of government.

But KP Sharma Oli reached the Shital Niwas before Deuba and staked claim for the government falsely claiming that he has support of 153 lawmakers including 121 CPN-UML lawmakers and 32 of JSP just a day after telling President Bhandari to go for formation of new government in accordance to Article 76(5) of the Constitution pointing he does not have numbers to pass the floor test.

Oli had repeated that he did not opt for floor test as he does not have majority during his press conference with editors of media outlets that was broadcast live across the country less than a couple of hours before staking claim with President Bhandari saying he has support of 153 lawmakers. But President Bhandari did not appoint Deuba as the PM pointing at the false claims of Oli.

Issuing a notice just before midnight on May 21, she reasoned that Oli cannot be appointed PM as 26 lawmakers of CPN-UML and 12 of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) that he included in his claim to contend that he has support of 153 House of Representatives (HoR) members signed in support of Deuba.

She, meanwhile, argued that Deuba cannot be appointed as UML Chairman and parliamentary party leader Oli wrote to not recognize signatures of 26 UML lawmakers who have supported another candidate when one’s own parliamentary party leader has staked claim and will be punished for indiscipline in a way that they will not even remain HoR member, and JSP Chairman Mahantha Thakur and parliamentary party leader Rajendra Mahato also wrote to not recognize signatures of 12 JSP lawmakers saying they have signed against the dignity of the party.

Calling an emergency Cabinet meeting just minutes after President Bhandari said that neither of Oli and Deuba can be appointed the next PM, Oli recommended President Bhandari to dissolve the House and hold the election in two stages on November 12 and 19.

President Bhandari then issued a statement in the wee hours of May 22 to dissolve the House and announce the next election as per recommendation of the Cabinet.

The opposition parties then jointly moved the SC demanding Deuba be appointed PM.

All the 149 lawmakers apart from Gokarna Bista, Pavitra Niraula Kharel, Raj Bahadur Buda and Ganesh Pahadi who were among 26 of the Khanal-Nepal faction to sign in support of Deuba on May 21 signed on the writ petition while Kalila Khatun, who hadn’t signed on May 21, signed on the petition.

The constitutional bench of SC in its verdict on the petition on Monday issued the mandamus instructing Deuba be appointed PM by five Tuesday afternoon in accordance to Article 76(5) of the Constitution.

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