EDITORIAL: Crazy demand

Gautam’s attempt to get elected to the HoR and irrational demand to have the statute amended show just how power-hungry he is

Every time Bamdev Gautam, vice-chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), is in the media spotlight, it is always for the wrong reason. This time around, he has stirred up trouble within the party by mounting pressure on its leadership to have the constitution amended so that even a member of the National Assembly (NA) can become the prime minister. However, the constitutional provision has it that only a member of the House of Representatives (HoR), popularly elected by the electorate, can become the executive head. That is why he refused to be nominated as NA member in the recently concluded NA election. He has openly made known his ambition to become the prime minister, even if this requires amending the statute, which is next to impossible given the public mood and the party’s strength in the Federal Parliament. Interestingly, a proposal to form a three-member study panel was put forth by co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal to look into the prospect of amending the statute in line with Gautam’s demand. PM KP Oli, however, kept mum on this issue at Saturday’s secretariat meeting, hoping that public opinion would take care of the issue.

This is not the first time that Gautam has come up with such an absurd idea to keep him at the central stage of politics. After his humiliating defeat in Bardiya-1 in 2017, he had come up with an unconstitutional move to form a high-powered Development Authority to be led by none other than himself to steer the government’s development works. The plan was, however, thwarted by the PM. Then after, he tried to get elected as HoR member by asking Dhan Bahadur Budha, a Dolpa HoR member from the NCP, to vacate the seat for him. Finally, he managed to have Rambir Manandhar from Kathmandu-7 resign so that he could get elected from there. He, however, backed down from the plan following public reaction. All his desperate attempts to get elected as an HoR member and irrational demand to have the statute amended show just how power-hungry he is.

Gautam’s demand to amend the constitution to suit his personal interest is uncalled for and unconstitutional. As a high profile politician of a ruling party, he should understand the simple fact that an executive head should be from among those persons popularly elected by the electorate, not by an electoral college, as is in the case of the Upper House, which is constitutionally less powerful than the HoR. We have adopted parliamentary democracy in which an executive head always comes from the most powerful HoR. Taking the constitutional provision into account, it would be better for the ruling party not to bring this issue for public debate. A new constitution must be allowed to work for some years to come without making any fuss about it. Definitely, constitutional amendment can be made if some pressing articles pose a hindrance to a large section of society from moving forward. The constitution in no way can be amended for the sake of a person like Gautam, who has a tainted political past. The PM himself and the ruling party must make their stance clear on this issue.

Boost police morale

As with many other sectors, political interference, especially after the restoration of multi-party democracy, has ruined the Nepal Police force, shattering its professionalism, morale and integrity. There isn’t an iota of doubt that corruption in different forms runs high in the police force. Many nefarious activities that have flourished in the country over the decades, from gold smuggling to other criminal acts, could not have taken place without the nexus of police personnel, and, of course, protection from the political elite.

It is not without reason that the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has urged the Ministry of Home Affairs to initiate procedural reforms to boost the professionalism, investigative efficiency and morale of police personnel. It is hard to boost their morale when recruitment, promotions and transfers are guided more by political and other considerations rather than merit and objective standards. This will require great political will on the part of the government and political parties to clean up the mess in the Nepal Police. But this is necessary if we want to see a better law and order situation in the country and good governance.