Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held an all-party meeting and told the leaders of parties that Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota was deliberately putting the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement on hold in the House of Representatives.

The PM asked the parties' leaders to exert pressure on Speaker Sapkota to move the MCC agreement ahead in the HoR so that the issue could be debated and put to vote.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, who is also the CPN-UML's Spokesperson, told mediapersons after the all-party meeting 'the argument that the government had not given business to the HoR' was wrong as there were already some businesses for the HoR, including the MCC agreement, citizenship bill, bill related to civil servants and some ordinances.

"The speaker has been putting the MCC agreement on hold even though he does not have the power to do so. The government knows that some opposition parties are against the agreement. The HoR can pass or reject the agreement, but the House must discuss the bill and take a call on it," he said.

He said ordinances, including the ordinance brought to control sexual offence, acid attack and facilitate COVID-19 vaccination drive, were to be presented in the HoR on the first day of its meeting, but those ordinances were not allowed to be presented in the House. Gyawali said the HoR also needed to pass some crucial bills, including the citizenship bill and bill related to civil servants.

Gyawali said that the PM wanted to know the views of political leaders on holding the by-election for the vacant seats of the HoR and local levels.

On the COVID-19 crisis, political leaders told the PM that the government needed to focus on preventive and therapeutic measures rather than trying to enforce lockdown, said Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel. He said his party leaders told the meeting that they were ready for the by-election, but they wanted the government to schedule by-elections in a manner that would not hamper the party's General Convention scheduled for August. He said his party leaders also told the PM that his effort should not be limited only to save the chair, but also to save the political system that was brought after a long political struggle and added that he urged the government to give business to the HOR. Paudel wondered why the government had not called the National Assembly meeting along with the HoR meetings.

Although Mahantha Thakur and Laxman Lal Karna represented the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal in the all-party meeting, JSP-N Co-chair Upendra Yadav said Thakur had attended the meeting in his personal capacity and his party was not invited to the meeting.

CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal also did not participate in the meeting.

Minister Gyawali said that the PM had called Dahal to invite him to the all-party meeting, but Dahal did not show up. "This is the height of irresponsible behaviour.

CPN-MC leaders must understand that the country will move ahead even without them,"

CPN-MC Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha, however, told THT that the PM did not inform the party about the meeting.

According to Shrestha, when PM Oli called Dahal yesterday, he said he wanted to hold a meeting with him and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to which Dahal said he would not go to Baluwatar and that the PM should hold such meetings at Singha Durbar.

"Today, just before the meeting, somebody from the PM's Secretariat called Dahal and asked him to attend the meeting, but due to the short notice, Dahal could not attend the meeting," Shrestha said.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 18, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.