Nepal | October 16, 2019

Speaker flayed for ignoring precedent

‘Should have let leader of opposition Deuba speak before the PM, following the precedent set by Dhungana’

Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, June 18

The main opposition Nepali Congress today obstructed proceedings of the House of Representatives stating that Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara did not give NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba an opportunity to express his views before calling Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to deliver his speech.

PM Oli was scheduled to brief lawmakers on his Europe visit and other current affairs today. Many were keenly waiting to listen to him as he was expected to announce withdrawal of the controversial Guthi Bill, which has sparked protests in Kathmandu valley since it was registered in the National Assembly on April 30.

The opposition party is against the bill and was looking forward to raising this issue in the House as well. It had formally asked Speaker Mahara to let its leader, Deuba, speak before Oli was invited to deliver his speech. But soon after the lower house session began, Mahara asked Oli to deliver his speech.

As soon as the PM started walking to the rostrum, NC lawmakers stood from their seats and protested. Later, they picketed the House of Representatives well chanting ‘parliamentary dignity be restored’.

Mahara repeatedly asked NC lawmakers to go back to their seats and let the PM speak. “Opposition lawmakers will get an opportunity to express their views after Oli completes his speech,” he said. But NC lawmakers did not relent and continued to demand that Deuba be given an opportunity to speak. After around 10 minutes, the speaker postponed the meeting till tomorrow.

“The Speaker should have followed international practice and given us permission to speak,” Deuba told journalists after the incident, calling the speaker’s action “unparliamentary”. Later, the NC issued a statement criticising the speaker’s action during today’s House session.

Oli, on the other hand, said the same about the NC. Addressing a press conference later at his office in Singha Durbar, Oli said NC’s action at the House was ‘undignified and unparliamentary’. He also asked the NC to respect people’s mandate. “They (NC) should accept when other parties come to power with people’s mandate,” he said.

Commenting on today’s incident, former secretary general of Parliament Surya Kiran Gurung told THT that the speaker should always keep in mind that the Parliament belongs to the opposition party.

“Former speaker Daman Nath Dhungana had set a precedent on this issue. So, the speaker should have allowed opposition party leader to speak in the House first,” Gurung said, adding, “It was essential for the PM to listen to the opposition leader as he was not in the country when much of the disenchantment against the Guthi Bill was brewing.”

A version of this article appears in print on June 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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