A day after Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal's resignation, Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav on Monday gave all parties an August 21 deadline to form the next government through consensus.
As per provisions of the interim constitution, Yadav asked parties to form a consensus government by that deadline failing which the next government would be formed through majority vote in parliament.
The deadline is expected to put pressure on the three major parties, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), Nepali Congress and Maoists, to fast track the government formation process.
Expressing satisfaction on his tenure Khanal told parliament on Monday that he resigned for failing to achieve desired results. He accused Maoists, the dominant coalition partner, of not providing adequate support.
"I announced my resignation as I expected support from all parties on completing the peace and constitution drafting processes. But they seemed more interested in power," he said.
Despite a five-point deal inked between the major parties on May 28 to complete the peace and constitution drafting processes and form a consensus government within three months, they failed to reach any agreement.
There's added pressure on them as the Constituent Assembly's tenure expires on August 31 and a caretaker government can't table the constitution amendment bill to extend it further.
Unless there's consensus on contentious issues of the peace process related to integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants and formation of the next government, the present crisis can continue for months.
Nepal witnessed a seven-month political deadlock and 16 failed votes in parliament after resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal in June last year.
The crisis ended when Khanal got elected to the PM's post in February with help of a secret pact signed with Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda on sharing power.
Since no single party enjoys majority in parliament that scenario could get repeated again. A tussle has already begun among Maoists and Nepali Congress on heading the next government.
The Maoist central committee has named Vice-Chairman Baburam Bhattarai as its PM candidate.
But Nepali Congress leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba are engaged in a show of strength to get the party's nod for the post.
The Deuba camp has threatened to bring in a no-confidence motion against parliamentary party leader Poudel if the latter doesn't step down by Tuesday.