Nepal | August 12, 2020

NCP intra-party spat takes toll on Parliament

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Power tussle between Nepal Communist Party (NCP) factions led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, which had asked the PM to step down, deepened today with Oli getting both houses of Parliament prorogued without consulting the speaker or the National Assembly chairman.

The PM’s decision that came while the Standing Committee meeting was on has fuelled speculation that Oli might bring ordinance to amend the provisions of the Political Party Act allowing dissidents to split their parties with the support of 40 per cent members of either the central committee or parliamentary party.

A few weeks ago, the PM had brought a similar ordinance but had to eventually recommend to the president to rescind it after criticism of the move became untenable for him.

Opponents had said that the PM brought the ordinance to create political instability by undoing the checks introduced in the Political Party Act after the chaotic post-1992 era when dissidents used to split their parties with the support of 40 per cent members in the central committee or the parliamentary party in order to form new alliances and join the government.

According to NCP Standing Committee member Mani Thapa, Dahal met the president to tell her that if the PM recommended an ordinance to her to allow dissidents to split their parties with the support of either 40 per cent of members in the central committee or in the parliamentary party, then she should not okay it at least for three-four days so that he and Oli could reconcile their differences and keep the party unity intact.

Dahal told the president that he, Madhav Kumar Nepal and some other leaders suspected that the PM might bring the ordinance again. According to Thapa, the president told Dahal to hold dialogue with the PM today itself.

Thapa said the PM did not consult any top party leader before recommending the prorogation of the budget session of the Parliament.

Thapa said the PM might have taken the decision to prorogue the budget session of the Parliament after interpreting Dahal and Nepal’s meeting with other party leaders last night as a serious attempt to dislodge him from power. The PM has fallen into minority in all key party bodies – Secretariat, Standing Committee and Central Committee.

Nepali Congress Chief Whip in the House of Representatives Bal Krishna Khand told THT that the PM’s decision to prorogue the budget session was unnatural and irresponsible act. “I heard that the PM told his Cabinet colleagues that there was no business for the houses to discuss. But there are some government bills that the Parliament was supposed to pass soon. Not only that, our party has registered a motion of public importance to discuss the government’s preparedness to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and there is also the issue of ratification of Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement signed between Nepal and the United States of America, Khand argued.

He said the PM, who had been asked by NCP Standing Committee members to step down as PM made the Parliament a target of his power tussle with the rival faction of the party.

Constitutional lawyer Bipin Adhikari said although the PM had the constitutional power to prorogue the House, he should not have decided to end the House session all of a sudden, as there were many urgent issues for the House to discuss. “The House was supposed to take a call on the MCC agreement. Its endorsement will signify our commitment to our relations with one of our oldest development partners, which is also one of the most powerful countries of the world,” he added.

Adhikari said, “More than four dozen bills are pending, including seven urgent bills under Parliamentary consideration.”

Adhikari said the Parliament needed to urgently deliberate citizenship bill and other bills that proposed to curtail the right to privacy and free speech. He said if the PM had decided to end the current session of the Parliament to stall any possible move by the rival faction of his party to remove him from the PM’s post, then it was wrong. The PM must try to strengthen the Parliament and not stall parliamentary proceedings.

A Standing Committee member of NCP said the PM’s move had taken the party to the brink of a split.

“The PM does not want to quit any of the two posts — neither PM nor party co-chair.

An application has been filed at the Election Commission seeking registration of CPN- UML and some people took to the streets today opposing attempts to unseat the PM. All this indicates that the party faces serious political crisis,” the member said.

Meanwhile, the NCP postponed its Standing Committee meeting till Saturday. A Standing Committee member said the decision to postpone the meeting till Saturday was taken with the objective of holding discussions with Oli.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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