EDITORIAL: Dignity of office

The President chose to sit on the recommendation of Deuba government until a new government under Oli took office

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday approved three names recommended by the government for the National Assembly (NA). With the President endorsing the government nominees—Yubaraj Khatiwada, Ram Narayan Bidari and Bimala Rai Paudel—the NA, for which 56 members were elected earlier on February 7, now has got the full shape. The President endorsed the three names recommended by the new government led by KP Sharma Oli for the NA as per Article 86 (2) (B) of the Constitution, which says of the 59 members of the NA, three members consisting of at least one woman are appointed by the President as per the recommendation of the government. The Oli government had recommended the new names on Monday after withdrawing the erstwhile Nepali Congress-led government’s decision to recommend Gopal Basnet, Krishna Paudel and Chandani Joshi for the NA.

What must be noted here is the President chose to sit on the recommendation of the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government until the new government under Oli took office. She, however, acted swiftly to endorse the new government’s fresh recommendation. And this prompted the Nepali Congress to raise question against the President’s move. The Congress party has argued that the President “looked at the recommendations by the two governments through two different lenses”. The NC had earlier also criticised the move of the Office of the President of delaying an ordinance on the National Assembly elections. The Nepali Congress says the President, as per the constitutional provision, should not have put the government recommendations on hold.

Nonetheless, the NC’s argument does not exonerate it from similar charges it has earlier faced. The NC also should take a fair share of blame for failing to maintain the dignity and sanctity of the Office of the President. What President Bhandari did in the case of NA nominees and the ordinance may set bad precedents, just like the act of former President Ram Baran Yadav of blocking then Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government’s decision to sack then Nepali Army chief Rookmangud Katawal had set. The moot question is not what the two presidents as individuals did, but how our political parties, who after a long struggle overthrew the monarchy to usher in republicanism, have failed to keep the highest institute in the republican set-up free from controversy. It is known to all that former President Yadav was an NC member before his election to the highest office. So is the case with incumbent President Bhandari, who until moving into Sheetal Niwas was a UML leader. In a political system that we exercise, it is but political parties that would form governments. But the parties should stay away from bringing the Office of the President into play in the games inspired by their partisan interests. The sooner our political parties learn to respect the sanctity of the Office of the President, the better it is.  Also, the Office of the President should avoid being influenced by the motives of political parties or the government of the day.

Rebuild temples

No initiatives have been taken to reconstruct the three iconic temples in the Basantpur Durbar Square area even three years after the earthquake that razed them to the ground. Kasthamandap Temple is supposed to be rebuilt by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) while the Department of Archaeology (DoA) and Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Museum are supposed to reconstruct Jaisideval and Dasavatar temples, respectively. But not a single brick has been laid to reconstruct them so far. The KMC has allocated Rs 190 million to rebuild Kashthamandap Temple and it plans to conclude it by 2019. KMC officials are still working on the modality of rebuilding the seventh century temple.

The DoA is supposed to rebuild Jaisideval Temple. However, the DoA has just started minor excavation of the damaged structure. It would cost around Rs 53.4 million to rebuild it. Reconstruction of Dasavatar Temple is also in limbo as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square Museum has yet to finalise the working modality. These temples are the attractions of the Kathmandu Valley. The concerned authority should have done proper homework to rebuild them soon after the natural disaster. The delay occurred due to lack of proper coordination among the line agencies responsible for their reconstructions.