Kathmandu, February 26
The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) today decided to recommend its Secretariat member Bamdev Gautam for the National Assembly. However, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is reportedly unhappy with the decision.
As per the constitutional provision, President Bidya Devi Bhandari can nominate three members to the Upper House of the Parliament on the recommendation of the Cabinet. Of the three, the two-year tenure of Finance Minister Khatiwada as NA member expires on March 3.
Today’s meeting decided that Gautam would replace Khatiwada in the NA, NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told journalists after the meeting of the NCP Secretariat held in Baluwatar this morning.
“The secretariat has decided to request the government to recommend NCP Vice-chairperson Bamdev Gautam for nomination by the president to the National Assembly as one NA seat will soon fall vacant,” said Shrestha.
However, soon after the unanimous decision, PM Oli expressed his displeasure over the decision and started holding talks with other secretariat members, including Madhav Kumar Nepal and Defence Minister Ishwar Pokharel.
Oli, who has fallen in minority in the secretariat, considers the decision a conspiracy against him. Jhalanath Khanal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Gautam and Narayan Kaji Shrestha are with Dahal in the nine-member Secretariat, while Oli has only Ishwar Pokharel and Bishnu Paudel on his side.
However, an NCP Secretariat member said today’s meeting was chaired by Oli himself and had unanimously agreed to recommend Gautam to the National Assembly. “It was a unanimous decision. While taking the decision, Oli had just said the matter could have been discussed beforehand,” said the Secretariat member.
Today’s Secretariat meeting also decided that there was no need to form a taskforce to amend the constitution, supposedly to facilitate Gautam’s appointment as the prime minister succeeding Oli.
Gautam, who lost House of Representatives election from his home district of Bardiya in the last general elections, recently told party leaders that he could accept the party’s proposal to become an NA member only if the constitution was amended to make NA members eligible to become the PM.
Although the party never announced officially, it was earlier reported that the NCP Secretariat had formed a three-member taskforce led by Madhav Kumar Nepal to lay the groundwork to amend the constitution to make National Assembly members eligible to become prime minister. Other members of the said taskforce were Subas Nembang and Khimlal Devkota.
However, the said taskforce never took off after Nembang and Devkota refused to be its members.
Today’s Secretariat meeting decided that the constitution could be amended as per its spirit when needed and there was no immediate need for constituting the taskforce.
“The Secretariat had earlier reached an understanding to form the taskforce. However, today’s meeting concluded there’s no rationale for continuing with that understanding,”
A version of this article appears in print on February 27, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.