NCP indecision forces another HoR deferral

Opposition obstructing the Parliament is normal, but it’s only in Nepal that the ruling party obstructs the House: NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand

Kathmandu, January 12

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s indecision on nominating a candidate for the speaker of the House of Representative today forced postponement of the HoR meeting for the third time this Bill Session, inviting wide criticism and condemnation.

Spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat Dasharath Dhamala informed the meeting of the Bill Session, which kicked off on December 20, was postponed till January 20. Earlier, the meeting was postponed on December 27 until January 1 and on December 31 till today.

NCP Co-chairs KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal have been holding marathon meetings for the past month, but they have not been able to decide who will be the next speaker. While former speaker Subas Chandra Nembang has been Oli’s favourite from the beginning, Dahal is rooting for either Agni Sapkota or Pampha Bhusal. Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe has also staked her claim to the speaker’s post and she reportedly has President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s backing.

Dahal is under pressure from his former CPN-MC colleagues that lawmakers representing former CPN-MC should get the speaker’s post. Before the merger between the then CPN-MC and CPN-UML, the two parties had shared the posts of speaker (Krishna Bahadur Mahara from the CPN-MC) and deputy speaker (Tumbahangphe from the UML). The speaker’s post fell vacant after Mahara was arrested on the charge of attempt to rape.

Moreover, Tumbahangphe is not willing to resign despite NCP secretariat’s directive to do so yesterday. Since the constitution has provisioned that speaker and deputy speaker shall be representatives of different parties, Tumbahangphe must resign as the NCP has already decided to keep the speaker’s post.

Tumbahangphe met Oli, Dahal and other secretariat members this morning at Baluwatar, but to no avail. “They said they had forwarded a letter related to yesterday’s decision to me. I told them I had not received the letter,” Tumbahangphe told THT.

With the Parliament is being held hostage to the NCP’s indecision, opposition leaders condemned the government and the NCP for rendering the Parliament ineffective.

Nepali Congress HoR Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand said opposition obstructing the Parliament was normal, but it was only in Nepal that the ruling party obstructed House proceedings.

Stating that the Parliament had to discuss the border dispute, skyrocketing prices and issues related to farmers, Khand said if these people’s issues were not instantly taken up, people would gradually lose faith in the Parliament.

“If we continue to disappoint the people, it can invite untoward situation,” Khand told THT. “If this continues we will have no option, but to launch an agitation.”

Former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Federal Council of the Socialist Party-Nepal Baburam Bhattarai wondered how the Parliament meeting could continue to be postponed just because of factional feud in the ruling party that commanded clear majority. “Should the people’s representatives only be casual bystanders?” Bhattarai questioned in a Twitter post.

NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma and leader Gagan Thapa too condemned the NCP leadership for not letting the Parliament function.

NCP Spokesperson Narayankaji Shrestha acknowledged that the process of electing the speaker had not moved as per the natural parliamentary process. “We need to amicably deal with the present deadlock and find a solution,” Shrestha told THT.