Speaker or deputy speaker should quit: Oppn

The opposition’s argument is valid. The ruling party must give up one post

  • Surendra Bhandari, a constitution expert

Kathmandu, June 11

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the opposition parties remain divided on whether Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara or  Deputy Speaker Shivamaya Tumbahamphe should resign to honour the constitutional provision which stipulates that the two should be from different genders and parties.

The issue is being raised in political circles and in the Parliament in the light of the merger of erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre.

Article 91 (2) of the constitution stipulates that election for speaker and deputy speaker shall be so held that one of them is a woman, and the two should represent different parties.

National Assembly member Radhe Shyam Adhikari, who represents the Nepali Congress in the Upper House of the Parliament, told THT, “The spirit of the constitution is to ensure representation of multiple parties and not just the ruling party and the principal opposition party in the Constitutional Council, which recommends names of constitutional post holders,” Adhikari said.

Deputy Parliamentary Party leader of the NCP (NCP) Subas Chandra Nembang, however, said the constitutional provision would not apply to the speaker and the deputy speaker because they had resigned from their parties before filing nomination papers. “We have submitted names of our party leaders who work in different committees of the party and the speaker and deputy speaker are not in any of our party committees,” Nembang said.

However, Adhikari said Nembang was offering the wrong argument. “The argument that the speaker becomes a neutral person after quitting his party is wrong, as often the speaker quits the party and later rejoins it,” he said.

He said if the NCP (NCP) did not quit one of the two posts, it would be a flagrant violation of the constitutional provision.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said NCP (NCP) leader Subas Chandra Nembang, who became speaker multiple times as a CPN-UML leader, never quit the party for good.

“It is important to have the speaker and deputy speaker from different parties. That will help them be neutral in the House,” he said.

Constitutional expert Surendra Bhandari said the opposition parties’ argument was valid and the ruling party had to give up one of the two posts.

“The ruling party is saying the speaker and deputy speaker resigned from their respective parties before filing nomination papers and were thus independent, but the constitutional provision does not envisage independent candidates. They should be from different genders and different parties,” he said.

Bhandari said the ruling party should not occupy both posts and should offer at least one post to the opposition. The ruling parties command the two-thirds majority in the House and should be more prudent and magnanimous while accommodating the opposition, he argued.