News Digest – Democracy & Governance (December 31, 2020 – January 6, 2021)

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PM Oli

Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) & Parliamentary Dissolution: Although constitution makers and experts iterate that the constitution was drafted after a lot of discussions and dialogues and that the prime minister has no right to dissolve the parliament, PM Oli continues to claim that it is his “special” right to do so. PM Oli has also been making his pawky and inappropriate comments on Madhav Nepal and Dahal, trying to paint himself as someone who tried his best to prevent the party split and Nepal as Dahal’s “ordinary worker.”

On the same account, the constitution watch group, led by ex-Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha, warns that a political necessity or obligation should not be used as a tool to politicize the constitution.

While PM Oli seems to have concluded that there is no chance for the parliament’s restoration, the Nepal-Dahal faction warns that there will be a long political instability if the parliament is dissolved. PM Oli’s stance is based on three factors: a) Dahal did not withdraw his political document, b) impeachment and no-confidence motion, and c) Oli’s perception that he was not allowed to work. Dahal’s observation is also based on these three factors: a) Oli is against this system, b) Oli always wanted to split the party, and c) Oli became whimsical.

NCP leaders from the Dahal-Nepal faction express their confidence in restoring the parliament through protests and demonstrations; speaking at an event in Kalikot, leader Bhim Rawal also accused PM Oli of trying to endorse the controversial MCC compact by dissolving the parliament.

Supreme Court begins hearing the cases against parliamentary dissolution on January 6. The five-member constitutional bench will hear arguments by “over two dozen lawyers on behalf of the plaintiffs.”

The Dahal-Nepal faction of NCP has issued a circular to block all bank accounts belonging to Nepal Communist Party.

First time after the parliament’s dissolution, PM Oli spoke to Dahal over phone to express his concern about Dahal’s wife’s health.

Bishnu Poudel, NCP’s general secretary and Finance Minister, expressed that it is impossible to save the party from a split now.

Restating that the general election will be held on allocated dates, PM Oli urged the Dahal-Nepal to either “come back to the party or face consequences.” The faction, however, held its Standing Committee meeting on January 3 and formed a taskforce to device further strategies for the party.

Amidst the crisis, Pushpa Kamal Dahal flew to India on January 4 for his wife’s treatment.

Others: Rastriya Prajatantra Party organized a protest rally against the parliamentary dissolution in Kathmandu on January 1. The party’s chair Kamal Thapa cautioned that they would restore monarchy through protests on the streets if the party’s demands were ignored.

The Election Commission is set to start allotting polling stations for the upcoming election from January 7.  

Janata Samajwadi Party leader Upendra Yadav claimed that the PM’s unconstitutional and anti-democratic move has weakened nationalism.

Despite some initial hesitation, Nepali Congress has decided to jointly protest the PM’s unconstitutional move, claims senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel speaking at a joint interaction program attended by NCP, JSPN, and NC leaders.

Corruption & Governance

Governance: The residents of 162 Dudh Koshi houses including 80 Majhi households asked for resettlement as they will be displaced after Dudh Koshi Hydropower Project’s construction begins.

The Health Ministry is preparing to set up freezer rooms to store COVID-19 vaccines in temperatures down to -20 C with USD 700,000 from Gavi, the global alliance of vaccines.

Workers for Butwal-Naryanghat road expansion have gone on strike as China State Engineering Corporation, their contractor company, hasn’t met all of their demands. The project, worth Rs. 17 billion, started in March 2019, but there has been little progress.

Service delivery, administrative work, and development activities have been hindered because as many as 81 local government posts are currently vacant in local units of Karnali province.

An irrigation canal has been constructed at Jhomo Phant in Tukuche, making it possible for local farmers outside of Mustang to return to their villages and start farming. The Rs. 23 million project initiated by the Gandaki Provincial government, which will provide a 1,500 metre long canal to supply water to a pond from Thapa Khola, is in its final stage.

Construction of the 16-km Binayak-Thantikhand road under Mid Hill Highway Project and Rajendra Construction Service has been delayed due to lack of raw materials and skilled human resources.

A local unit in Makwanpur district in Raksirang Rural Municipality has allocated Rs. 2 million to provide free health services to senior citizens in the “Save Parents” health programme.

The Ministry of Health and Population decided to set up a suicide hotline in September, but it is suffering from a lack of staff.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has drafted an e-commerce bill which will regulate sales of products and services online, but consumer rights activists and entrepreneurs have cited that it has issues with clarity, privacy, and accountability.

According to a study “Impacts of Infrastructures on Environment and Biodiversity in Tarai, Nepal”, linear infrastructure projects such as road networks, irrigation canals, and petroleum pipelines are affecting environment, biodiversity, and wildlife movement.

Local residents of Madi, Chitwan have turned to fish farming instead of paddy and lentil cultivation in order to avoid human-wildlife conflict. The government declared Madi a fish block under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project

Despite having quotas for civil service jobs, hill Brahmins were favored for the post. In the fiscal year 2019-20, out of 28% Brahmimns who applied, 45% were recruited

Corruption cases: The Special Court released Uma Kumari Dhakalni, wife of Shova Kanta Dhakal, on a bail of Rs. 200,000. CIAA had filed a case in February against Dhakalni and 175 others in the Baluwatar land grab scam where the state owned land was transferred to private individuals by creating fake tenants. Dhakalni was charged with causing a Rs 9.1 million loss.

Tilak Prasad Ghimire, an employee of District Sports Development Committee in Sano Gaucharan, was charged with taking Rs. 15,000 bribe to renew club documents.

A chargesheet has been filed against Bel Bahadur Nepali and 7 others for embezzling  Rs. 1,14,76,000 in public property after not building a bridge located in Teku, Kathmandu, according to specifications.

Police Sikandar Prasad Kanu stationed in Saptari district in Tilathi was charged for taking Rs. 50,000 bribe in order to return a seized motorcycle.

Police Bhola Yadav stationed in Harinagar, Sunsari was found asking for Rs. 6,000 bribe from local businessman Binod Shah in order to facilitate transport of household goods from India.

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