‘An exercise to find alternative to incumbent govt by postponing elections’

Published On: September 22, 2022 01:03 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 22: A constitutional and political crisis has arisen in the country after President Bidya Devi Bhandari crossed the constitutional limits and refused to certify the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Article 113 (3) of the Constitution gives the President the authority to send the bills other than finance bills within 15 days with a message for reconsideration. However, the Constitution does not allow the President to return the bill or not certify it for a second time. According to Article 113 (4), the bill shall be verified within 15 days after it has been passed by the federal parliament with amendments or in the same form.

Article 113 (4) stipulates that the bill should be verified within 15 days after it is passed by parliament with amendments or in the same form after being sent back. Dissatisfied with the Citizenship Bill, President Bhandari ignored the provisions of the Constitution and challenged the Constitution itself.

Bhandari, who has been accused of acting according to the interests of her former party CPN-UML even after assuming the responsibilities of the President, has been viewed accordingly for not certifying the Citizenship Bill which was passed by both houses of the Federal Parliament twice.

Bhandari, who is in constant touch with the anti-change forces which are dissatisfied with the Constitution issued by the Constituent Assembly as well as the political change of 2006, is trying to push the country toward instability by stopping the Citizenship Bill. President Bhandari hastily approved the recommendation of the KP Oli-led government to dissolve the House of Representatives (HoR) twice against the provisions of the Constitution.

President Bhandari is not satisfied with the formation of the government under the leadership of Sher Bahadur Deuba with the Supreme Court overturning her approval of parliament’s dissolution. Bhandari, who is constantly active in finding an alternative to the Deuba-led government, is stuck in the certification of the Citizenship Bill. Along with this, sources claim that President Bhandari is in the strategy of finding an alternative to the Deuba-led government and the five-party alliance.

Sources claim that Bhandari's desire is to divide the people in favor of and against the Citizenship Bill and to stop the provincial and HoR elections scheduled for November 20. Bhandari, who is in favor of finding an alternative to the current Deuba-led government if it cannot conduct elections before November 20, has been raising questions about the fairness of the election in meetings with various sides and individuals.

If the current five-party ruling alliance goes to the November 20 election united, it has been analyzed everywhere that the condition of other parties, including the main opposition CPN-UML, will weaken. President Bhandari has been expressing doubts that the government will hold fair elections, saying that everything including the police administration will be with the current government.

Stating that an electoral government should be formed under the leadership of independent people to save the country's nationalism and economy, Bhandari has been saying that nationalist forces and people should support her. Bhandari, who has been saying that only the Election Commission cannot conduct fair elections, said that since the process of provincial assemblies and House of Representatives elections started on September 18, parliament has been automatically dissolved.

Sources claim that the President has been advised to form a new government so as to hold the elections in April 2023, by using the vacuum to be created if the elections scheduled for November 20 are not held. According to Sheetal Niwas, the relevance of the present government will have ended if the elections are not held on the specified date.

Since there is no representative body of the people at the moment, the political parties cannot take any step against the President, including impeachment. The government, having received an indication that the President was overstepping the constitutional limits, had introduced an amendment bill to extend the term of the House of Representatives until the day before the swearing-in of the next Parliament.

Due to all-round opposition from various organizations and individuals, including the Election Commission, the government stepped back. But the leaders of the alliance have concluded that President Bhandari is trying to push the country into political and constitutional chaos by using the same vacuum.

Deputy General Secretary of Maoist Center, Barshaman Pun has accused President Bhandari of trying to cancel the elections scheduled for November 20 by not authenticating the Citizenship Bill. "Let's be conscious, this development is also part of the conspiracy to overturn the election," Pun wrote on social media, "Not certifying the Citizenship Bill passed by the federal parliament, the representative body of the sovereign people, to grant citizenship to the children of Nepali citizens is on the one hand a gross violation of the constitution, and on the other hand, its citizens are stateless. This is an inhuman act.”

As the nomination process for the provincial assemblies and House of Representatives elections has started, the term of parliament ended after September 17 midnight, so the bill that has reached Sheetal Niwas for authentication has automatically become inactive, so the certification and Article 113 (4) of the Constitution do not apply, claim people close to the President.

According to Sheetal Niwas, the bill passed by the Federal Parliament and sent for certification is contrary to the provision of women's rights in Article 38 and other provisions related to Nepali Citizenship in Article 15, stating that Article 61 (4) of the Constitution gives the President the responsibility as the guardian of the Constitution.

Ruling coalition under pressure

With President Bhandari's refusal to certify the Citizenship Bill, the ruling parties are under pressure. The meeting of the top leaders of the alliance concluded that the President's move of not authenticating the bill was unconstitutional and an insult to parliament. But the coalition parties are under pressure on how to move ahead against the President's move of not certifying the bill which is against the Constitution.

With the announcement of the provincial assemblies and HoR election for November 20, the nomination process for proportional candidates has begun, and the term of parliament has ended on the night of September 17. Had the House of Representatives remained in place, the option of impeaching her would have been with the coalition leaders. But now that option is no more available. 

There is another option for the coalition parties to hold street protests against the President's move to reject the provisions of the Constitution. But they suspect that if the ruling parties hit the streets, the election scheduled for November 20 may be affected.

The alliance parties have come to the conclusion that President Bhandari is in the process of ending the incumbent government’s term without allowing the election to be held and extending her term. Even if this issue is taken to the court, the coalition parties are of the understanding that the issue will go to the constitutional bench again and the issue will not be resolved before the election.

A leader who participated in the meeting of the ruling coalition held on Wednesday said that discussion on impeachment of the President after the introduction of a new parliament took place. The top leaders of the political parties in the ruling coalition, including the prime minister, consulted legal experts on Wednesday.


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