News Digest: Domestic Politics and Governance (July 15-21, 2021)

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Nepali Congress

On July 17, NC’s meeting of the office bearers decided to penalize those involved in the attack against the party’s Central Committee member and Active Membership Investigation Committee member Shyam Ghimire.

Nepali Congress held a meeting of its parliamentary party on July 18, right before the House of Representative resumed for the first time after being reinstated.

PM Sher Bahadur Deuba won the vote of confidence in the House on July 18, securing his tenure for the remaining 1.5 years. Out of 249 lawmakers present in the 271-member HoR, 165 voted in his favor and 83 against him, while one stayed neutral. 22 UML lawmakers, including Madhav Nepal, voted in Deuba’s favor.

After the vote, PM Deuba faces a challenge to distribute the ministerial portfolios among the parties riddled with factional divisions. Apart from UML’s Nepal faction, JSP’s Yadav faction, and Maoist Centre, Deuba has to manage his rival faction’s claim coming from within his own party.

CPN-UML:

Chairman KP Sharma Oli at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) held at the Tulsilal Memorial Foundation in Chasal, Lalitpur. Photo: RSS

With Oli declaring that UML is now a party without Madhav Nepal, and the latter considering not to compromise with Oli, the party’s factional dispute has further worsened.

CPN-UML held its standing committee meeting on July 16, amidst an ongoing factional disagreements. The meeting had two agendas to discuss: the party’s official position on the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the House and to implement the 10-point ‘agreement’ on the party dispute. However, the task force members from the Nepal faction urged Oli to postpone the meeting.

The July 16 standing committee meeting decided not to offer vote of confidence to PM Deuba. The meeting convened without the presence of leaders from the Madhav Nepal faction. The meeting also endorsed the 10-point ‘agreement’ and dissolved the task force formed to solve the party dispute. The party also decided to launch a nationwide campaign to ‘expose’ the Supreme Court’s decision that has ‘led the country to a party-less system.’

CPN-UML called another standing committee meeting on July 18—to set agenda for the party’s upcoming Central Committee meeting and start the preparation for statute convention. The Madhav Nepal faction has also been invited in the meeting.

In the parliamentary party’s meeting on July 17, leaders from both Oli and Nepal factions expressed their commitment to save the party’s unity.

33 UML lawmakers violated the party’s whip, as 11 decided to stay absent and 22 voted in PM Deuba’s favor. In the party’s Central Committee meeting, Oli proposed to seek clarification from 22 lawmakers who violated the party’s whip. Oli also suggested Bhim Rawal, a lawmaker from the Nepal faction, to withdraw his resignation. Rawal had submitted his resignation as a lawmaker before the House convened and headed towards a vote of confidence.

CPN-Maoist Centre

Maoist Centre’s proposal to form an all-party political mechanism has entered the five-party alliance; Nepali Congress is carefully considering the proposal.

Maoist Centre called a meeting of its parliamentary party on July 18—the day the House was summoned.

Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP)

After five lawmakers from the Mahant Thakur faction joined the Yadav faction, the latter sought seven ministries and one state ministry to join the Deuba-led government. With the recent alignment, the Yadav faction has gained majority at both Central Working Committee and parliamentary party.

With Yadav faction’s demand that the Thakur faction publicly accept its ‘mistake’ in joining the Oli-led government and the latter’s reluctance to comply and instead follow the Election Commission’s decision, JSP’s future as a united party remains bleak.

Netra Bikram Chand-led NCP

On July 14, 2021, NCP’s chief secretary Netra Bikram Chand-Biplab met CPN-Maoist Centre’s chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal. 

On July 15, Biplab met CPN-UML leader Madhav Nepal to discuss the current political affairs; the meeting was later joined by Pushpa Kamal Dahal. On July 16, Biplab met Janata Samajwadi Party’s federal council chief Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.

Bipalb met former PM Oli at his residence in Balkot on July 20—to discuss the agreement his party signed when Oli was the PM.

Governance

Experts said that provincial governments are following Oli’s example of influencing policies by introducing ordinances in his favor. So far, he has issued 15 ordinances to influence policies including the fiscal year 2021-22 and last year’s federal budget, Citizenship Act-2006 etc.

Sher Bahadur Deuba increased the terms of two transitional justice commissions by a year. The bodies are–The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons. The two were formed in 2015 as per the Enforced Disappearance Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Act which was made to look into human rights violations which occurred during the Maoist conflict, which had lasted for 10 years and ended in 2006.

CPN-UML held a meeting on July 16 and claimed that Sher Bahadur’s appointment as prime minister was against the multiparty system and undemocratic. However, experts have said that this action can be classified as contempt of court. Also, CPN-UML youth had organized protests against the appointment of Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister.

On May 8, the then Oli government had appointed 11 ambassadors, two from foreign service and nine from the political quota. However, on July 16, a cabinet meeting canceled these ambassadorial appointments since the criteria for appointing ambassadors had been modified in order to benefit certain people.

On the recommendation of the Sher Bahadur Deuba government, President Bidya Devi Bhandari scrapped an ordinance which was passed by the KP Sharma Oli government on May 4 to amend the Constitutional Council (Function Duties, Power and Procedure.

On July 18, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba won the vote of confidence by receiving 165 out of the needed 136 votes in the 271 member lower house. 83 voted against and one remained neutral.

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