News Digest – Democracy & Governance (October 8 -14)

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People and Coronavirus

Democracy

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): NCP Chair Dahal wants the vote of no confidence against the Karnali CM taken back. A motion for vote of no confidence was filed against the CM, who represents the former Maoist group, by the lawmakers from the former NCP-UML.

The province-level tussle has been intervened by the Federal Government and NCP’s top leadership. Following Dahal’s meeting with another NCP leader Madhav Nepal, seven lawmakers withdrew their support for the motion. The Dahal-Nepal alliance puts pressure on PM Oli once again.

Despite doctor’s recommendation to stay in isolation—following the COVID-19 infection to two cabinet members and his close advisors—PM Oli continues to hold meetings and events.

In the 27 days, PM Oli and Dahal held 11 one-on-one dialogues and three meeting to discuss constitutional and political appointments and to finalize party unification works. However, no progress towards an agreement was made between the two.

Nepali Congress (NC): In districts like Dadeldhura and Rasuwa, Nepali Congress leaders are accused to distributing membership to their own party workers by falsely naming them as those defecting other parties such as Maoists and Naya Shakti.

NC’s Central Working Committee’s meeting scheduled for October 11, was postponed due to the demise of the party’s ex-treasurer Rambabu Prasai.

NC leaders express their displeasure in Deuba’s handling of the supposed opposition party; they accused him of criticizing the government while also negotiating settlement on constitutional appointments, largely for his own people, without involving other Congress leaders.

Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN): Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN) is set to hold its Central Committee meeting in Kathmandu valley on October 19 and 20.

Janata Samajwadi Party organized a party entry program in Parsa district without the permission from the district administration office. In the event attended by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Upendra Yadav, and Province 2 CM Lalbabu Rau, a thousand people entered the party. 

Other Political Parties: Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) expanded the party by adding 400 members in the Central Committee.

Adding 37 new members, Sajha Party expanded its Central Committee on October 8, 2020.

Governance

The Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security dismissed 35 medical institutions that examined the health of migrant workers for not submitting security deposit.

Although the government has increased the fare of long-route public vehicles by 50%, transport businesses continue to trick customers by charging extra money from them.

On October 12, the government decided to uplift the restrictions on public vehicles, allowing them to transport people to their full capacity. The government’s decision has been widely criticized for being insensitive of the growing coronavirus cases.

The government has requested COVID-19 infected people to not roam outdoors; any person found doing so will be subject to legal punishment—up to six months in prison.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali directed the office chiefs in Nuwakot district to provide services to people in a timely, transparent, and disciplined manner. Reminding that most authorities previously concentrated in Singha Durbar have been delegated to local levels, he urged the officers to take up the responsibility and serve the people.

A cabinet meeting decided to scrap off its previous rule that required all tourists visiting Nepal a mandatory quarantine. According to the new decision, effective October 17, tourists who test negative for COVID-19 72 hours prior to their departure will be waived off the mandatory quarantine. The government has also decided to ‘waive off the COVID-19 insurance of $5,000 for the tourists.’

NCP’s continued intra-party difference over constitutional and political appointments makes the possibility of cabinet reshuffle uncertain.

Responding to the growing COVID-19 cases in Kathmandu valley, the government has decided to convert all hospitals in the valley into COVID hospitals.

Two individuals—Rupesh Sah and Rabin Lama—were arrested in charge of assaulting Prem Chalaune. The assistant professor at Tribhuvan University was assaulted by Nepal Student Union (NSU) group on October 6.

In the first meeting of the taskforce formed to study the energy sector, Energy Minister Barshaman Pun assured that electricity tariff will be reduced and electricity will be made cheaper.

Speaking at a virtual program on natural disaster risk reduction, PM Oli stressed the importance of an extensive awareness program and joint effort of all to minimize the risk.

The government fixed the rate of COVID-19 antigen test at NRs. 1000, while the cost of a PCR test remains NRs. 2000. However, the Supreme Court has ordered the government to make PCR tests free for all at all laboratories.

The government reached an agreement with the Satyagrahi Doctor KC, which prompted the National Medical Association (NMA) to roll back its earlier decision ‘to suspend all services except emergency and COVID-19.’

Speaking at an event in Gorkha, ex-PM Dr. Baburam Bhattarai accused PM Oli, Deuba, and Dahal of having shared a commission worth NRs. 9 billion in the Budhi Gandaki Project. He also assured that he could provide proof of the corruption if needed.

Nepali Congress has demanded a fair investigation into the Budhi Gandaki Project and has challenged Dr. Bhattarai to produce proof of Deuba’s involvement in the corruption. During a party program in Parsa, Dr. Bhattarai repeated the accusation and urged the government to initiate an investigation into the matter. He also said that he was ready to accept any punishment if the investigation found his involvement.

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