In a meeting of the National Assembly held today, lawmakers lambasted the government's incompetence in importing COVID-19 vaccines.

During the special session, Jitendra Narayan Dev of the main opposition Nepali Congress accused the government of failing to take substantive steps to import vaccines against COVID-19. Citing that some vaccine manufacturing countries were facilitating other countries to receive the vaccines, he said the government had not made any substantive efforts for the same.

"While South Asian countries continue to get vaccines from the COVAX facility, Nepal is able to get them only from China," he said. He accused the government of failing to leave its mark despite getting support and cooperation from the opposition.

CPN-Maoist Centre's Radheshyam Paswan said that although the constitution had eliminated caste discrimination, it had not been implemented in practice. He said that the recent activities of some high-ranking government officials regarding caste discrimination were making a mockery of the constitution.

"The education minister's 'open' favour to the accused in caste-based discrimination as in the case of Rupa Sunar and his move to drop the accused to her home in his official vehicle was really objectionable," he said. He also sought the immediate resignation of the sitting minister. He warned that he would go on a hunger strike inside the Parliament if the education minister did not step down over his move.

Lawmaker of the ruling CPN-UML, Khimlal Bhattarai, said the incumbent government was successful in implementing the constitution.

Bhattarai said that several challenges had ensued in the course of promulgating the constitution and similar challenges had been added in the course of implementing it.

Speaking at today's special hour of the National Assembly meeting, he opined, "The incumbent government has resolved challenges created within and outside the country regarding the implementation of the constitution. It has succeeded in bringing CK Raut and Netra Bikram Chand-led groups into mainstream politics."

He further said the government had been making maximum efforts to resolve the problems of Madhes.

Bhattarai argued that the dissolution of the House of Representatives was democratic and constitutional.

"The Prime Minister had no intention to dissolve the HoR for the second time and the move taken by the president was genuine," he said.

Citing that political issues had been filed at the Supreme Court, Bhattarai said the SC had given some verdicts on some political issues in a biased manner.

Similarly, another lawmaker Tulasa Kumari Dahal drew the government's attention to the need to provide relief to people affected by natural disasters and demanded action against those involved in cases of violence against women.

Lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari said the question of 'partylessness' did not arise as the members of Parliament were independent regarding the exercise of Article 76 (5) of the constitution. "This article of the constitution is a special provision," he argued.

Khim Lal Devkota alleged that the government had increased the posts of civil servants in contravention of the recommendation of the Public Expenditure Review Commission, the fiscal transfer was minuscule and the local levels were burdened with conditional grants.

Taradevi Bhatta charged that the government elected by the House of Representatives had itself violated the rule of law by dissolving the Parliament. "Democracy calls for the rule of law. The government is responsible towards people and the Parliament. But the government has failed in every aspect.

The parliamentary committees have been formed as per the spirit of the constitution, but the government ministers do not show up at the meetings of these thematic committees," she lamented.

Meanwhile, speaking at 'Zero Hour' of the National Assembly today, lawmakers demanded that the government roll back the hike in the price of petroleum products.

Lawmaker Khim Kumar BK said most of the development infrastructure were weakening due to the tendency to scatter and spend the budget in the name of development without viable outcome.

He opined that corruption had increased in the country due to the tendency to spend the development budget in the eleventh hour just before the end of the fiscal year.

Jaga Prasad Sharma demanded that the government give first priority to people with disability who comprise 1.94 per cent of the country's total population in the vaccination programme against COVID-19.

He also strongly called on the government to withdraw the decision to hike the price of petroleum products as frequent price hike had hit the common people really hard.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 8 2021, of The Himalayan Times.