Patriarchy stronger than monarchy, says Tumbahangphe after quitting

Kathmandu, January 20

Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, who resigned from the post of deputy speaker today, said patriarchy was stronger than monarchy in Nepal.

Speaking at a press conference after she submitted her resignation to the Parliament Secretariat, Tumbahanghpe said deeply-rooted and institutionalised patriarchy could not end just by the efforts of a few individuals. “We threw away monarchy easily, but changing patriarchal mindset will certainly take some time and hard work,” she said.

Although Tumbahangphe had also staked her claim to the speaker’s post, she was forced to resign as per constitutional provisions after the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) decided to retain the top post. The NCP has nominated Agni Sapkota as candidate for the post that fell vacant after former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara was arrested in October on the charge of attempt to rape.

Tumbahangphe claimed it was she who emerged ultimate winner because she was successful in protecting the Parliament from political parties’ diktats.

Last week, NCP co-chairs KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal had asked Tumbahangphe to resign so that the process of electing speaker could begin. Tumbahangphe had refused to put in her papers, stating that she would quit only after the party decided on the candidate.

Tumbahangphe said as the leader of the House it was her duty to ensure independence of the constitutional institution. “Who becomes speaker is secondary. Had I succumbed to the party’s direction, I would have to forever face questions,” she said. “I proved that a constitutional post holder should not resign bowing to pressure from the ruling party.”

She added that she did not want to render the HoR leaderless by resigning well before the party decided on a candidate as the constitution did not envisage a leaderless House.

“I staked claim to the speaker’s post and it was natural. But I had also said I would resign if the party decided on a different candidate. Therefore, today I resigned, not on the party’s direction, but as per the constitution,” she said.

She expressed disappointment that she was repeatedly asked whose backing she had to stay firm on her stand. “I didn’t need any individual or institution’s backing. I had the constitution’s backing. The constitution is above everything. Whatever I did all along was in line with the constitution,” she added.

In her address to the House before she tendered her resignation, Tumbahangphe said she honoured her stand by clearing the way for the election of the new speaker.

Stressing the need for an all inclusive democratic system, Tumbahangphe said actions and practice, not just words, were instrumental in honouring the very essence of a democracy. “I hope political parties and leaders represented in this Parliament agree with me when I say that inclusion and representation of all segments of society in upper tiers of the state will further and truly strengthen democracy.”

She added, “I am grateful that I, as a single indigenous woman, got the opportunity to lead this esteemed organ. I will continue to contribute to the creation of a prosperous and a just society through some other role.”