EDITORIAL: Let the House meet

At this point, why Oli and Dahal want their respective candidates – and not Shiva Maya – to become the Speaker is simply beyond any reasoning

When the Bill Session of Parliament kicked off on December 20, we all thought the House of Representatives, in which the ruling Nepal Communist Party controls a near two-thirds majority, would get down to business from day one. But that was not to be. The House meeting, postponed twice in as many weeks, has been put off yet again. The meeting of the House of Representatives, scheduled for Sunday, January 12, has been deferred, for the third time, after Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangpherefused orders from the party high command to step down. The ruling Nepal Communist Party’s two co-chairs – Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal – had on Friday instructed Tumbahangphe to clear the way for the party to field its candidate for the Speaker’s post, vacant since the arrest of Krishna Bahadur Mahara in October on the charge of attempt to rape.The NCP leadership appears determined to secure the post of House Speaker but then the two co-chairs are at odds over who should the party’s candidate for Speaker be. Prime Minister Oli favours his close aide and former speaker Subas Chandra Nembang while Dahal has firmly put his weight behind his own confidant Agni Sapkota.At this point, why Oli and Dahal want their respective candidates – and not Shiva Maya – to become the Speaker is simply beyond any reasoning. On the other hand, Shiva Maya has publicly maintained that she is competent for the job and that she should be the next Speaker.

The NCP became the largest party in Nepal following the merger of two left parties – the CPN (Maoist) and CPN (UML) - after the parliamentary elections in 2017. But the merger has not prevented the leaders of the erstwhile parties from promoting their respective confidants to get an upper hand in the party. Since Mahara was a Maoist candidate, Dahal has been insisting that the new candidate should also be of his pick. Tumbahangphe, however, belonged to the former CPN-UML.The House has both the mandate and the power to appoint a new speaker at the earliest possible should the post fall vacant by following the due procedures. Unfortunately, the House has not been allowed to discharge its responsibility because the Parliament has come under the shadow of the executive. This, as noted by constitutional experts, is a betrayal of the constitution. At the heart of the Westminster system that the country has adopted lies the concept of separation of powers between the three branches of government – the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Allowing the executive to influence the legislature doesn’t auger well for the proper functioning of both the constitution and the political system. By deferring the House meeting time and again, the ruling party is making a mockery of the Parliament. When the House is deferred it bars the people’s elected representatives from airing their views on issues of local and national importance. The ruling party cannot hold the House hostage at a time when there are about 40 bills to be discussed and passed into law, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact that awaits parliamentary approval.

Take strong action

The police have arrested proprietor of crusher industry, Bipin Mahato, the tipper’s loader Jitendra Mahato and tipper driver Munindra Mahato on charges of intentionally killing Dilip Mahato, 24, on the banks of the Aurahikhola of Shreepur in Mithila Municipality-5, Dhanusha. Dilip was killed Friday morning while trying to stop unauthorised excavation of sand from the river. Dilip had been protesting the illegal mining of sand for long. The industry proprietor had threatened Dilip’s father that his son would be crushed under a tipper if he continued to protest.

The arrested have confessed that the boy was first struck with a rod on his head and killed. After his death, the proprietor tried to make it look like an accident. While the police investigate the incident and present the accused before the court of law with full details, the local levels should take strong action against those involved in illegal sand mining. It was most inhumane on the part of the tipper driver and the proprietor to kill a person for opposing their illegal activity. At the same time, no political party should try to protect the culprits who have taken the life of a young man who wanted to do good for society.