The Ruling Party
The ruling party NCP moved into a new discourse as it concluded on names of joint chief of seven provinces and chief of departments. The party also picked Bamdev Gautam as the vice-chairman. On 16 August, in a surprising move, the party secretariat promoted Bamdev Gautam to the post of vice-chair. The meeting also upgraded ranking of Jhalanath Khanal and picked Ishwor Pokharel as chief of the school department. Senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal moved down to the fourth position. With the new development, Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Nepal have lesser power in the party. With the Oli-Dahal-Khanal nexus in place, leader Madhav Nepal is in a minority position.
Similarly, on 18 August, PM Oli vowed that he will be in office till the next elections. PM Oli brought in influential leaders in his fold including Bamdev Gautam, Ishwor Pokharel, and former UML and Maoist leaders giving slim chance to Dahal to lead the government.
The party has been continuously humiliating senior leader Nepal. The unilateral decision of the PM may harm the party, said leader Ghanshyam Bhusal. He demanded that the party follow ‘one leader, one responsibility’ policy as per the statute. Leader Nepal also urged for correction of earlier decision on responsibilities. Chairman Oli is not happy with Nepal’s note of dissent. The rift further increased which ended in heated debate in between the duo before the PM left for Singapore for the second time in a month for his treatment.
Nepal’s long awaited megaproject Nijgadh International Airport (NIA) is going for new bidding process. Eight international and national firms expressed their interest on the project. The Investment Board received proposal from firms in China, India, Qatar, Finland, Switzerland, Malaysia and Nepal.
Following Patan High Court order for arrests, minister for physical infrastructure development Karnali Pradesh, Khadka Bahadur Khatri, although sacked already, has been absconding.
On 20 August, the all-party meeting, leaders committed they will work in one path if the government exercised good governance. PM KP Oli recalled the concept of reconciliation to preserve the republic, democracy, and the constitution. The all-party meeting concluded that recent activities in the country threatened federalism and the constitution, and hence all needed to work together to protect the nascent federal democratic republic.
NC claimed that the party will be in first position in the next election. The election committee of NC started homework for the interim structure. As per party regulation, NC also formed the interim structure of 330 provincial and 165 HoR. Unanimously, the party passed local level organization interim structure regulation, 2076. The 14-point agenda was approved by the Central Working Committee.
SP-N chairman Upendra Yadav said that their party is in the government to ensure amendment in the constitution. They will withdraw from the government if the amendments are not made.  India’s Foreign Minister S Jayashankar, during his Nepal tour, met RJP-N leaders Mahanta Thakur, Rajendra Mahato, Sarad Singh Bhandari, Mahendra Yadav, Raj Kishor Yadav, and Anil Jha. The meeting discussed Nepal-India relations at large.
The HoR committee submitted the reports on Forest Bill, the National Identity Cards and Registration Bill, and the inspection to the flood-affected districts to the parliament. Development and Technology committee of HoR endorsed the Advertisement Regulation bill.
The recommendation committee remains divided on the selection of TJ leadership. The committee member Prakash Wasti stressed that office-bearers should only be appointed after revision of TJ act.
NCP and NC finalized the name of TJ chair as the tussle was for the leadership of TJ bodies. The NCP and NC agreed on appointing former Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha as TRC head. However, Shrestha rejected the offer. Two contenders Govinda Bandi and Surya Dhungel now have chance to lead each of the two TJ (TRC and CIEDP) bodies.
Amid widespread criticism by the international community, human rights organizations, and conflict victims groups, the government remains reluctant to revise TJ Act, 2014.
The fifth Nepal-India Joint Commission meeting was held in Kathmandu on August 22-23, 2019. Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar co-chaired the event. The discussions regarding connectivity and economic partnership, trade and transit, power and water resources sectors, culture and education were held during the meeting.
India provided a total of INR 233 crore to Nepal for post-earthquake reconstruction and roads. INR 153 crore for reconstruction of houses in Nuwakot and Gorkha, whereas the remaining INR 80 crore was for the construction of Hulaki Marga in Terai.
An MoU was signed between Nepal and India on maintaining food safety and standards.
Although Jaishankar invited Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal for a meeting, the two refused to meet citing diplomatic norms.
Civil Aviation Conference
Nepal hosted the 56th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation in Asia and Pacific Regions in Kathmandu. More than 400 high-level delegates from over 40 countries attended the 5-day program. PM Oli inaugurated he program themed “Harmonizing Efforts to Meet the Challenges of Capacity Constraints”. The conference highlighted civil aviation issues including air security, economic development of air transport aviation, environment, and regional cooperation.
Jammu & Kashmir issue
Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali said that the issue of Jammu & Kashmir should be solved through negotiations and dialogues, and Nepal is in favor of regional peace and stability. Although Nepal has not made an official stance on the issue, Gyawali spoke about the issue during a press conference ahead of Jaishankar’s arrival in Kathmandu for the 5th India-Nepal Joint Commission.
Minister Gyawali briefed the House of Representatives on the issues discussed and key decisions made during the Joint Commission meeting concluded recently. Minister Gyawali said that the meeting directed the secretariat to make necessary preparation for submitting the EPG report and foreign secretaries to come up with ideas to review the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty. Gyawali also shared that the government was in talks with the British government regarding revision of tripartite agreement between Nepal, Britain and India concerning British Gurkha soldiers.
Gyawali in an interview with The Himalayan Times confirmed that the meeting discussed border mapping, inundation, extradition treaty and EPG report in great details. The minister shared that there was no discussion on Kashmir issue. On Pakistan’s request seeking Nepal to speak on Kashmir as SAARC chair, he maintained that Nepal would focus on domestic matters and not get involved in other’s issues.
The federal government established the Federal Assembly Secretariat’s ‘Provincial Liaison and Coordination Branch’ for coordination between local and provincial level, capacity building. The branch has been sitting idly without any work since its inception.
Province 1 started recruitment of employees at the Ministry of Land Management and Agriculture Cooperatives. The province has also allocated a budget of Rs 165 million to set up a technical university in the current fiscal year.
Provincial Assembly in Province 1 called an assembly to finalize the name of the province and their capital. The provincial assembly registered 43 bills, passed 36 and authenticated 35 bills in the last session.
The provincial meeting of Province 3 which was supposed to start on August 25, sat on August 26 but are still undecided on the name and capital of the Province. The main opposition Nepali Congress is pressurizing the government to finalize the name and capital at the earliest. Similarly, in Province 2, parties proposed various names as the capital. Nepali Congress proposed ‘Janaki Pradesh’, Samajwadi Party and RJP-N proposed ‘Madhes Pradesh’.
Sudurpashchim Pradesh passed a bill promoting Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Pradesh passed eight important bills in the fourth session. Due to dispute between the ruling and opposition party, the assembly was halted eight times in 21 days.
Chief Secretary of Karnali Province announced ‘Cycle City Initiative’ in Birendra Nagar Valley. The Province bought ten cycles for the office of the Chief Minister and Cabinet Office. Meanwhile, several civil servants and representatives have been using cycles for office work. The aim is to make the city dust free. The government has also targeted to make cycle lanes in the valley.
Province 2 Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut has been discussing employment projects with international organizations. The government will ensure employment to 42 thousand youths within the next three years.
In the last fiscal year 2018-19, the federal government has transferred 69 large road projects to Province 3. But, the federal government is yet to transfer the budget to the provincial government.
Advocate Lokendra Olli has filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court demanding the dissolution of the remuneration and amenities of the representatives. Six provinces except of Province 1 have drafted and implemented legislation allowing the province assembly members to take remuneration and allowances. Only Province 1 has drafted and enforced a law that provides allowances and no remuneration for the provincial assembly members and office-bearers.
GENDER AND SOCIAL INCLUSION
Gender, Social Inclusion, Human Rights
Fifteen years after the extrajudicial killing of Maina Sunar, Nepal Army proposed the family of Sunar, a teenager girl from Kavre who was abducted and killed by the army during the armed insurgency, to set up an endowment fund in her name and build her statue at Kavre’s Bhagwati High School, where she studied. Maina’s mother declined these offers as it was apparently to settle down the case. The case against army personnel is still pending at the Supreme Court. 
Police arrested two women on a charge of practicing witchcraft from Bhangaha Municipality-4 in Mahottari district. According to the District Police Office, a group of women forcefully fed feces to a woman from Birta village at the municipality, accusing her of witchcraft.
A campaign against child marriage and violence against women is on in rural areas of Banke district with the help of courtroom drama. The drama is ongoing since the past three years and has been effective in creating awareness about consequences of child marriage, violence against women, and legal provisions in cases of child marriages.
Blue Diamond Society, the first NGO for LGBTIQ in Nepal, organized 16th LGBTIQ Nepal Pride Parade with a theme “Our Festival, Our Pride”. The society has been organizing the parade as a tribute to people who died due to discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity across the country and the world.
The Ministry of Health and Population has requested UNICEF for vitamin A supplements and deworming tablets after failing to procure ‘Vitamin A Campaign’ on time. This is the third time the ministry has requested the UN body for this program in the FDR. The Health Ministry allocated budget to all seven province for vitamin A and deworming tablets.
Photo: Pratik Gurung