News Digest – Politics & Governance (March 18-24, 2021)


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Politics & Development

Communist Party of Nepal–Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN–UML): CPN–UML withdrew its support to chief minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi-led provincial government in Karnali and called back its ministers.

The Khanal-Nepal group of CPN–UML called for a national convention of its party workers on March 17, 2021, where it made a 3-month plan on how to move forward during the ongoing political turmoil. Speaking at the convention, leader Madhav Nepal pointed out at the ‘cyber jackals’ attempt to stop their program by forging Yogesh Bhattarai’s signature. Leader Ashta Laxmi Shakya commented that there can be dialogues only if PM Oli corrects his March 12 move, where he had unilaterally stripped Khanal-Nepal group’s leaders’ responsibilities through a central committee meeting. She also remarked that PM Oli has no moral courage to take action against any leaders. Leader Jhala Nath Khanal accussed PM Oli of taking the party towards a split, an end. The concept paper presented at the convention was equally aggressive; it demanded PM Oli’s resignation. The two-day convention decided to launch an internal struggle (from within the party) against PM Oli.

Meanwhile, PM Oli called a parliamentary party meeting on March 18, 2021, at the prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar. The Khanal-Nepal group did not attend the meeting. The meeting established a 27-member parliamentary party board, which includes Nepal and Khanal. The meeting also formed a 3-member taskforce to amend the parliamentary party statute and also decided to take action against those attending factional meetings and gatherings. The Khanal-Nepal group had held its own meeting of lawmakers on the same day, before PM Oli’s meeting.

CPN–UML’s deputy chair Bamdev Gautam cautioned that a threat of the party’s split has emerged.

Inviting industrialists and business people for an interaction program, PM Oli’s group announced party entry of some 235 businessmen into the CPN-UML.

A central committee meeting held at PM Oli’s residence in Baluwatar on March 20, 2021, decided to ask explanation from Madhav Nepal, Bhim Rawal, Surendra Pandey, Ghana Shyam Bhusal, and Ram Kumari Jhakri for working against the party. The party asked 10-point justification with Madhav Nepal. With this, PM Oli has started taking action against the leaders.

The March 20 central committee meeting also passed the statute of its parliamentary party with amendments; according to the amendment, there will be a 29-member parliamentary board with mandatory 33% female representation, the parliamentary leader will have the authority to appoint deputy leader, and the party’s leader will be appointed only through the House of Representatives (HoR). According to the new statute, the party chief has the power to remove or appoint lawmakers based on proportional system. The Khanal-Nepal group issued a five-point disagreement with the meeting, in a written form.

Leader Nepal claimed CPN–UML to be theirs and that Oli can leave the party. He also accused PM Oli of being Hitler’s incarnation.

PM Oli met JSPN leaders Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Sarbendra Nath Shukla, and Laxman Lal Karna on March 10 to discuss a possible coalition; the CPN-UML appears positive about addressing the latter’s demands, which means despite JSPN’s internal disagreement and a possible split, Oli can continue his government, for he only needs 16 (out of 32) JSPN lawmakers’ support.

Nepali Congress (NC): A day after president’s all-party meeting, where PM Oli and she both presented the ‘need’ to go to new election, opposition Nepali Congress also seems to have made its mood for the same. Central committee member, who is considered to be close to Deuba, Ramesh Lekhak commented that there is no alternative to a new election, given the ongoing infighting and political uncertainty. Later, Lekhak also commented that NC is ready to take leadership if needed.

Senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel remarked that NC should find PM Oli’s replacement, even if it is by handing over the leadership to another party.

Gagan Thapa claimed that PM Oli’s arrogance led to Nepal Communist Party’s division. He also said that the current government will continue to insult the parliament.

After Poudel faction’s meeting on March 21, NC president Deuba also called a meeting of current and ex-office bearers to discuss the contemporary political issues. Despite the pressure from within the party and from other political parties to take the lead in unseating PM Oli and forming an alternative government, Deuba has maintained a silence, which has been benefitting Oli.

Nine districts have refused the party’s instruction to distribute active membership and send the record to the central office.

Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal (JSPN): Citing the need to do more homework, the JSPN postponed its central working committee’s meeting after Holi.

The Federal Parliament: In the fourth meeting of the HoR after its reinstatement, political parties CPN-MC, NC, JSPN, and Rashtriya Janamorcha all demanded Oli’s resignation on moral grounds.

Speaker Agni Sapkota held an interaction with all 10 parliamentary committee‘s chief, enquiring the status of bills and other activities.

Netra Bikram Chand-Biplab: The Netra Bikram Chand group has expressed its displeasure with the government for delaying to address its commitment about releasing its leaders and cadres.

Governance & Corruption

The Judicial Council nominated two justices, Nahakul Subedi and Kumar Chudal, to the Supreme Court on March 12. The Parliamentary Hearing Committee called on the public to file a complaint against this action.

Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, parliamentary party leader of CPN, leads the Karnali Province government. KP Oli’s faction of the CPN UML, during a party meeting held in Birendranagar on Wednesday, announced that they will withdraw support for this group.

Agni Khanel, who President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed as attorney general in February 2018, resigned from his post as Attorney General on March 19. Chief personal secretary to President Bhandari, Bhesh Raj Adhikari, said that the Office of the President will release a notice of his resignation soon.

KP Oli hasn’t yet tabled an ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council (Functions, Duties, Powers and Procedures) Act-2010 or tabled the annual reports of the National Human Rights and the Public Service commissions, and opposition parties claim that these are deliberate actions.

Leaders of major political parties haven’t yet held meetings with victims of the Maoist insurgency. Two transitional justice commissions have not been performing, and there have been delays in amendments to transitional justice law.

CPN-UML have sent letters of clarification to four of its leaders—Madhav Kumar Nepal, Bhim Rawal, Ghanashyam Bhusal, and Surendra Pandey for activities against the party’s interest, but the four have not responded yet.

A bill on federal civil service was registered more than two years ago, but the House still hasn’t passed this bill, and as a result, provincial and local governance has been affected negatively as a result of this inaction.

The Maoist Centre hasn’t decided whether it will withdraw support or not from the government. The Janata Samajbadi Party have held talks in Baluwatar about this issue. Meanwhile, Congress party said that it is not in a hurry to take the reins of the government.

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