News Digest: Domestic Politics & Governance (June 24-30, 2021)

0 Comments

House Dissolution Hearing in the Supreme Court

Lawyers arguing against the House dissolution questioned President Bhandari’s intent behind endorsing the dissolution recommendation. They alleged that the President “wanted Oli—and no other person—as prime minister.” On the following day, the advocates argued that Article 76(5) of the constitution was meant to ensure a maximum life to the House and that it was “meant for individual lawmakers—not parties.”

The President’s written claim to the Supreme Court (SC), that her decisions as the chief is not subject to judicial review, has received a widespread criticism for being dictatorial. Lawyers arguing against the House dissolution presented their claims to show that the President’s actions “can be subject to judicial review.” PM Oli, however, came to the President’s defense and also criticized the SC’s ‘intervention’ in political affairs. 

Attorney General Ramesh Badal argued that ruling in the petitioners’ favor to make Deuba the PM by reinstating the House will end Nepal’s multiparty system.

Five-party Opposition Alliance

Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba speaking at an interaction between top leaders and editors, organized by the five opposition alliances in New Baneshwor. Photo: RSS

Speaking with editors at a joint event of the opposition alliance, NC president Deuba urged everyone to be united for the protection of the constitution and democracy.

On June 24, students from the five parties held a joint protest in Kathmandu against House dissolution. Despite their increased pressure on Oli, the alliance is yet to convince people about what exactly they are aiming for and whether they really are for the preservation of constitutionalism and democracy or just an ‘alliance formed out of compulsion.’

CPN-UML leaders Madhav Nepal claimed that he has already received an offer for prime minister but has no intention to betray the alliance. However, Oli downplayed such a thing and instead mocked Nepal with ‘offensive’ personal attacks.

Speaking at a press conference, the alliance leaders all condemned President Bhandari for disrespecting the institution and working as PM Oli’s cadre. NC president Deuba expressed his confidence that the Supreme Court will decide in the alliance’s favor.

CPN-UML

After a Standing Committee meeting, PM Oli’s CPN-UML has called a meeting, on June 30, of its Convention Organizing Committee, which was delegitimized by a SC decision. The meeting aims to revive the committee elected by the party’s Ninth general convention—a move anticipated by many as positive step towards the party’s unity.

Beduram Bhusal, who joined CPN-UML from Dahal’s CPN-Moist Centre, has urged the parliament secretariat to give him an independent status, as he does not belong to either of the parties. This development has added a new dimension to CPN-UML’s internal crisis.

A Standing Committee meeting on June 29 decided to scrap the Convention Organizing Committee and revive its pre-unification committee of 241 Central Committee Members. With this decision, the ‘penalized’ leaders including Madhav Nepal will automatically be absolved and their old positions in the party will be restored. The first meeting of the revived committee is to be held on July 2.

Nepali Congress (NC)

After a second meeting among Bimalendra Nidhi, Dr. Shekhar Koirala, and Prakash Man Singh on June 25, the leaders signaled of a new equation within the party before (and beyond) the general convention. However, central members from the anti-establishment faction have pressured the leaders to field one candidate for presidency.

Dr. Shekhar Koirala, a contender for the party’s presidency, met leader Ram Chandra Poudel and offered him to be the prime minister and allow him to run the party.

The party’s internal dispute regarding active membership has once again reached the peak, with the anti-establishment faction alleging that the membership distribution was unfairly influenced by Deuba to sway the upcoming convention in his favor.

Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP)

After the Supreme Court’s decision that quashed PM Oli’s cabinet expansion, some 10 ministers and 2 ministers of state from the Janata Samajwadi Party’s Thakur-Mahato faction lost their positions. This development caused further setback to the party that is already at a brink of split.

Miscellaneous

President Bhandari has summoned the National Assembly on July 1, following a cabinet recommendation.

Despite the Constitution Council case being sub judice in the Supreme Court, the President endorsed the appointment of 20 officials in different Constitutional Bodies. The move has been widely criticized for bypassing constitutional provisions, processes, and judicial overview. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has expressed its willingness to expand its relations and work with all political parties after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governance

On June 23, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority filed a corruption case against Chudamani Sharma, Lumba Dhwaj Mahat, and Umesh Dhakal, the Tax Settlement Commission’s former office bearers, for making settlements to business tax liabilities while incurring financial losses to the state.

Clashes started between Province-2 Mayor Rina Devi Sah’s supporters and ward chiefs backed by CPN (Maoist Centre), Nepali Congress, Yadav’s faction of Janata Samajbadi Party, and Nepal’s faction of CPN (UML) after the mayor decided to hold a municipal council. Protestors claimed that the municipality’s executive body, not the mayor, should have scheduled the meeting. Mayor Sah claimed that due process was fulfilled before scheduling the council.

On June 24, President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed 20 chairs and members in 11 different constitutional commissions without waiting for the constitutionally mandatory parliamentary hearing process to occur. KP Sharma Oli had assisted this move by issuing an ordinance on May 4, amending the Constitutional Council Act (Functions, Duties and Procedures) 2010 and allowing a majority of the five-member council to hold meetings.

The House dissolution hearing’s second day saw a scrutinizing of Article 76(5) and its interpretation. Article 76 (5) states that in cases where the prime minister appointed under clause (3) fails to obtain a vote of confidence under clause (4) and any member under clause (2) presents a ground on which he or she can obtain a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives, the President shall appoint such member as Prime Minister.

On June 2, the Press Council of Nepal cautioned a journalist for their posts on social media. Critics have argued that the Press Council Nepal doesn’t have the authority to monitor what journalists or others post on social media.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.