Nepal | January 26, 2021

Nepali Congress halts PHC meeting

Says the chairs of constitutional commissions were nominated by the Constitution Council in the absence of opposition leader

Jagdishor Panday
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Kathmandu, January 28

The main opposition Nepali Congress today halted a House panel meeting, protesting the nomination of five chairpersons of the constitutional commissions by the Constitutional Council on January 20 in the absence of the leader of the opposition.

Amid agitation in both houses — House of Representatives and National Assembly — over the government’s move scrapping two hospitals named after two former Nepali Congress presidents Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala; and the National Medical Education Bill, the NC also shared its concern at the Public Hearing Committee on those nominations by the CC without the presence of their party President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

The PHC meeting was supposed to seek complaints from the public on the five nominated chairpersons of the commissions, but the NC’s obstruction didn’t allow the process to move ahead. Member of PHC and NC Lawmaker Bhimsen Das Pradhan said the nominations were against the rule of law because leader of the opposition was not present then. He said those nominations were against the spirit of the constitution. “At the beginning of the meeting, we asked the chairperson not to go ahead with those nominations,” he said, adding, the chairperson could postpone the meeting for some days. He further said that the government should follow the rule, otherwise the opposition would not support it.

“The Congress expressed its concern in public with a press statement a few days ago regarding the issue,” Pradhan said. “The CC called Deuba only once when he was outside Kathmandu. But later they didn’t inform him.”

The meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had recommended former government secretary Balananda Paudel as chairman of the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, former finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi as chair of Inclusive Commission, Vijay Kumar Dutta as chair of Madhesi Commission, Bishnu Kumar Chaudhary as chief of Tharu Commission and Samim Ansari as chief of Muslim Commission.

However, another member of PHC and ruling party lawmaker Surendra Pandey said the parliamentary process would go ahead. He said the committee’s job was not to look after laws related to nomination for constitutional bodies. “Our job is to conduct hearing of officials who were recommended by the CC,” Pandey said, adding, “Today, we gave them a chance to settle their agenda, but from the next meeting we will proceed with the issue.”

Chairperson of the committee Laxman Lal Karna said he had postponed the hearing of the five chairpersons of the CC for a few days, but would continue from the next meeting. “If there are any grievances between the Congress and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), they need to solve them at the political level,” he said.

Karna postponed the first meeting of PHC, and later held a second meeting for the ambassadorial hearing.

In the second meeting, the committee approved Amrit Rai as Nepal’s ambassador and permanent representative of Nepal to the United Nations in New York unanimously.

Deuba opposes nomination move

Kathmandu, January 28

Main opposition Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has taken up the issue of the Constitutional Council’s recommendation of chiefs of five constitutional commissions with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. PM Oli and Deuba met yesterday at Baluwatar.

“How can you decide on those chairpersons named in my absence in the meeting?” Deuba asked the PM according to sources. The source said PM Oli replied that it was the result of continuous meeting and procedure.

Deuba had not attended the meeting which was held on January 20. Oli reminded Deuba that the leader of the opposition should compulsorily attend the first meeting and subsequent meetings can take decisions on the basis of majority as per the constitutional provision.

The meeting chaired by PM Oli had recommended former government secretary Balananda Paudel as the chairman of National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission, former finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi as chairperson of Inclusive Commission, Vijay Kumar Dutta as chairman of Madhesi Commission, Bishnu Kumar Chaudhary as chief of Tharu Commission and Samim Ansari as chief of Muslim Commission.

According to PM Oli’s press adviser Kundan Aryal, PM Oli and Deuba also discussed the issues of two hospitals — GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases in Dulegauda, Tanahun; and Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital in Khajura, Banke.

NC lawmakers have been saying that the opposition will continue to obstruct the HoR until the government decides to bring these two scrapped hospitals under the federal governments.

A version of this article appears in print on January 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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