Nepal | August 11, 2020

Ruling, opposition parties at loggerheads in House

Govt’s policies and programmes endorsed amidst chaos

Jagdishor Panday
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Why is PMO directly overseeing procurement process of projects above Rs 25 billion?

                                • Min Bahadur Biswakarma, NC lawmaker

Kathmandu, May 7

Tensions between the ruling and opposition parties flared in the House of Representatives today after both accused each other of using ‘demeaning language’, which, they said, undermined parliamentary norms and values.

The House had summoned Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today to hold final round of discussion on policies and programmes unveiled by the government on Friday. It was scheduled to endorse the policies and programmes — based on which the annual budget is framed — after the discussion, which had started two days ago. As the final round of discussion began, 31 lawmakers from opposition parties asked supplementary questions.

“Why is the PM’s Office directly overseeing procurement process of projects above Rs 25 billion? Is it a move to promote corruption?” asked Nepali Congress lawmaker Min Bahadur Biswakarma. Another NC lawmaker, Devendra Raj Kandel, asked why confidants of the PM were colluding with the mafia? He told the PM to make names of all the people who visited his residence public.

Other lawmakers asked why the government had failed to pin down perpetrators of rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta and why action had not been taken against those involved in the 33-kg gold smuggling case and two wide-body aircraft purchase scam.

When Oli went to the roster to answer the questions, he started off saying, “I won’t answer queries that are petty and motivated by resentment and frustration.” The PM’s statement offended many NC lawmakers.

Biswakarma immediately stood up from his seat and asked Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara to delete those words from the records, stating “they were objectionable”.

Mahara, who has previously been accused of taking the ruling party’s side, said, “My attention has been drawn by your statement.

But, for now, let the PM say what he has to say.”

Soon the PM intervened and said, “Questions should be logical and of certain standard.” This statement further infuriated NC lawmakers, and all of them, including NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, stood up in protest.

Mahara tried to calm them and asked everyone to take their seats, but lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties, including the PM, started accusing each other of undermining parliamentary norms and values, creating chaos in the lower House.

“If the speaker wants to uphold parliamentary norms and values, the words spoken by PM Oli should be immediately erased from the Parliament’s records,” NC lawmaker Minendra Rijal said.

But lawmaker from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Krishna Bhakta Pokharel asked, “How can you say the words used by the PM were inappropriate? Which provision of the parliamentary regulation are you referring to in making your claim?”

Speaker Mahara again tried to pacify lawmakers, but in vain. The PM, however, proceeded with his speech. And after around two minutes of speaking, he said he had answered all the questions and went back to his seat.

Later, the NC issued a statement objecting to the “use of improper language by the PM and ineffective role played by the speaker in managing the situation in the House”. This, however, did not prevent the passage of policies and programmes.

Mahara announced that the policies and programmes of the government had been endorsed by a majority of lower House lawmakers. The government’s policies and programmes were also approved by the upper House today. Endorsement of policies and programmes by both the houses has officially paved the way for the government to refer to the document to frame the next fiscal year’s budget.

A version of this article appears in print on May 07, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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