KATHMANDU, Sept 22: There has been widespread criticism of President Bidya Devi Bhandari as she didn’t verify the Citizenship Bill within the deadline. The bill was re-passed by the House of Representatives and the National Assembly and submitted to the President for verification.
The Vice President, former president, ruling coalition, various political parties, and civil society have protested against the President stating that she is against the constitutional arrangement that the Bill submitted for the second time should be verified within 15 days. They have said that Bhandari has no moral right to hold office as she has violated the constitution. Bhandari has also been asked to resign from the post immediately.
Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun has expressed dissatisfaction over the President's decision not to verify the citizenship bill. He issued a statement and said that although it is the duty of every citizen to follow the constitution, due to recent developments, there is a growing public voice that the main guardian and protector of the constitution is going against the constitution.
Similarly, the ruling parties Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center), CPN (United Socialist) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) issued a joint statement on Wednesday and said that the President, who is supposed to follow and protect the Constitution, has attacked the constitutional system.
The statement signed by Prime Minister and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Unified Socialist Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal and JSP Chairman Upendra Yadav said that the President's unconstitutional action has grossly insulted and devalued the Federal Parliament elected by the people.
"On the other hand, there has been a serious blow to the basic values of the people's sovereignty, constitutional supremacy and democratic governance as provided by the constitution," the statement said. Rastriya Janamorcha of the ruling coalition has remained neutral on this matter.
Likewise, NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel has also said that the President is endangering the system itself. He wrote on Twitter, "The system has been threatened by the President as she is utilizing her constitutional right to verify the proposed bill with the approval of the people's elected assembly. It is a blow to the system because it is done by the constitutional body that has repeatedly hurt the essence and spirit of the constitution. I object to it.”
Senior Vice President of Maoist Center Narayankaji Shrestha has said that although he may agree with some of the views expressed by the President regarding the process and underlying issues of the Citizenship Bill, she cannot be excused for violating the Constitution. "The President not certifying the Citizenship Bill is a wrong move against the Constitution," Shrestha wrote on social media.
Meanwhile, Kamal Thapa, Chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, has defended the President's move. “Attempts to undermine the constitution/national interest to fulfill political interests have failed. Politically, it will be controversial but this decision of President Bidya Bhandari will be praised by history," Thapa tweeted. "It is known that even King Birendra had refused to put the royal seal on the Citizenship Bill against the national interest.”
Similarly, former ambassador Nilambar Acharya also supported the President's decision. He tweeted, "You have to look at relativity. In the face of the election, it was wrong to decide on a matter like citizenship without adopting the whole process and leaving aside the extensive deliberations. Ignoring the questions raised by the President in the message was another mistake. Whatever needs to be done now, parliament to be elected after the election will do it.”
Various organizations including the Nepal Press Union have expressed their displeasure over the non-certification of the bill and urged the president to stay within the limits of the Constitution.