KATHMANDU, Jan 8: Amid criticism from within as well as outside the party that it failed to play a strong role, the main opposition party, Nepali Congress (NC), has of late been trying to make its presence felt in parliament.
While the NC has begun presenting itself as a strong opposition party in the House, its role in various parliamentary committees, too, has been noticeable in recent days. House obstruction by the NC lawmakers over the 'questionable' role of Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Sunday is a case in point.
The NC has alleged that Mahara acted as a party cadre even though he is the Speaker of parliament.
A sub-committee led by NC lawmaker Rajendra KC recently came up with a finding that several politicians and senior bureaucrats were involved in the multi-billion-rupee corruption in the procurement of two wide-body aircraft of Nepal Airlines Corporations (NAC). This has created a huge buzz in the country's political circle.
Speaking at the first meeting of the ongoing winter session on December 26, an otherwise complacent NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba gave a powerful speech hitting at a number of government decisions. In fact, his carefully-worded speech was successful in stealing the limelight both in the House and mainstream media unlike his past speeches.
The NC also protested against the government for 'bypassing' parliament while introducing a legislation related to the adjustment of civil servants in the federal setup.
Insiders said there is a general feeling among the party cadres that the NC had failed to play a strong role in parliament as the main opposition party mainly due to weak leadership and intra-party rifts. This issue was raised by many Mahasamiti members during the party's Mahasamiti Meeting held in Kathmandu last month to finalize its new statute and forge new future strategies.
NC's top leadership had earlier held an interaction with columnists, newspaper editors and journalists writing on issues related to NC in the mainstream print and online media and televisions. “There is a general consensus among the leaders that NC has to present itself strongly at all fronts including parliament and the streets. NC has also begun ideologically countering various wrong decisions of the government in a strong manner,” said a senior NC leader, asking not to be named.
As the party's general convention is just one and a half years away, there is also an informal competition among the leaders to show their public presence among party cadres at the local level.
Asked if the NC had grown offensive against the government in recent days, NC Whip Pushpa Bhusal said they had been playing a cooperative role until recently as the government had come up with several laws that sought to institutionalize federalism as per the new constitution. “We are forced to play the role of a responsible opposition party as the government has been taking arbitrary decisions one after another. The issues raised by the government deserved an appropriate response from us,” she said.