POLITICS Clash Course

With the announcement by CPN-UML to disrupt the House of Representatives (HoR), Nepal’s political course is heading to be chaotic

Sept. 17, 2021, 12:04 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 15, No. 05, Sep. 17, 2021 (Ashoj 01, 2078) Publisher and Editor: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

If the recent political statements issued by CPN-UML leaders are any indication, they are the beginning of an era of political clashes among the country’s major political forces, intensifying and prolonging the political instability.

Nepal’s relatively stable political situation has entered into a chaotic order following the split of CPN-UML into two. CPN-UML has announced to disrupt the House demanding clarification from speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota on his role of not taking actions against defector of CPN-UML, which would have prevented the split.

An organized protest against speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota in the HoR by CPN-UML is not haphazard, nor a hasty decision, but the protest is a part of strategy prepared by chairman of CPN-UML K.P. Sharma Oli for a political gain.

Leader Oli alleged that Speaker Sapkota had played a major role in the split of the UML. “We need to take all necessary actions to oust speaker as he is not fit for the position of Speaker. The position is currently held by a person who is involved in splitting the CPN-UML in a wrong and unconstitutional way. How can we allow the functioning of parliament with such a Speaker?” he asked in the meeting of his party.

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Following the opposition from the CPN (UML), on 8 September, the meeting of the House of Representatives has been put off. As per their plan, CPN-UML MPs have disrupted the house demanding the resignation of speaker.

According to the leadership, the UML would not allow the session's meeting to move forward until the Speaker responds as to why he did not issue notice about the 14 lawmakers that the UML had taken action on and removed them as members of the HoR,” UML chief whip Bishal Bhattarai said addressing the HoR.

Speaker Sapkota had quietly listened to all vulgar slogans against him taking restraints. However, he also issued indirect threat to use his power to end the disruption taking action against CPN-UML members.

Speaker Sapkota urged the UML lawmakers who were chanting slogans against him to read section B and C of Rule 21 of Parliament Regulation 2075 BS again. Sapkota in the warning tone urged them to not go beyond the grace and norms of the parliament. His words indicated that rebel turned Maoist speaker Sapkota does not mind to take any harsh decisions like expelling the MPs.

“If you continue disruption crossing the limit, I will have to take necessary actions to conduct the house,” said speaker Sapkota postponing the first day meetings following the disruptions.

Earlier in the parliamentary party meeting, CPN-UML Chairman Oli had announced not to let the HoR meeting chaired by Speaker Sapkota to function smoothly.

With the consent, the first day of the meeting of the HoR has been put off. Looking at the speaker’s words and the stand taken by CPN-UML, some major clashes are likely in the parliament.

The agitating UML lawmakers have alleged that Speaker Sapkota had played a major role to split the UML by not sacking 14 UML lawmakers including Madhav Kumar Nepal as recommended by the party.

Along with creating obstruction in the HoR, UML Chairman Oli has also filed a writ petition against Speaker Sapkota for not taking action against 14 ‘sacked’ lawmakers of the party.

CPN-UML leader Oli’s agenda does not end here. By disrupting the house, CPN-UML wants to block 14 former CPN-UML lawmakers from attending the procedures of HoR.

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Chairman Oli said that his party won’t recognize the presence of 14 former UML lawmakers ‘sacked’ by the party for breaching the party’s whip in the parliamentary meeting. He maintained that parliament meeting cannot function in the presence of 14 'non-lawmakers' as they are already sacked by the respective party.

With Oli’s open stand, there are triangular clashes in the parliamentary politics. Although the front face of present clashes in the parliament is speaker Sapkota, the fight actually is between Oli led CPN-UML Vs Nepal led CPN- Unified Socialist.

“Who is Oli and CPN-UML stopping us from participating in the HoR as a member?,” asked Birodh Khatiwada, Member of Parliament leading CPN-Socialist. “How a murderer of HoR like Oli can block us. We need to boycott his presence,” said MP Khatiwada.

MP Ram Kumari Jhakri is harsh with former leader Oli. CPN-UML leader is acting like Hitler. We will not allow him to dance freely and implement his will in this legitimate body. Speaker Sapkota needs to exercise his power suspending them from attending the parliament for a certain period.”

With just little over 13 months for the elections, CPN-UML and CPN-Unified Socialist want to establish mileage for the coming elections. For former Prime Minister Oli, it is more important to make it irrelevant to justify his decision to dissolve the house and call for fresh elections.

“Speaker Sapkota was biased on his decision not to dismiss the lawmakers as recommended by the UML. If 14 rebel members are allowed to take part in HoR, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Prabhu Shah, Lekhraj Bhatta and Gaurishankar Chaudhary should also be allowed in the parliament meeting,” asked CPN-UML leader Subash Chandra Nembang.

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Although leaders of ruling parties and prime minister are yet to speak on the disruption, they are united against CPN-UML which wants to create some kind of issue to go to street to mobilize cadres and public opinion in its favor.

In the current parliamentary stalemate, CPN-UML wants expulsion of its members from speaker Sapkota to justify that he is biased against them. However, Nepal’s political parties have a long history of stalling the House whenever they want to put pressure on the government. When united in 2001, CPN-UML had stalled the House for 64 days.

Following the revival of the house last time, NC and Maoist –Center disrupted the session of the house for several days. However, this is a very different circumstance. The ruling parties need to pass new budget revision bill, political party amendment ordinance and MCC.

If the current level of political dispute does not end any time soon, it will end up with intense political clashes between different political forces.

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