Ansari likely to head Muslim Commission without hearings nod

Published On: March 6, 2019 06:00 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal

KATHMANDU, Mar 6: Samim Miya Ansari, who was nominated by the Constitutional Council as chairperson of the National Muslim Commission, is likely to be appointed to the post even though the Parliamentary Hearings Committee (PHC) on Tuesday failed to endorse him.

The PHC meeting remained indecisive as lawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party were divided among themselves.

However, despite the hearings committee's failure to endorse Ansari's candidacy, he will become automatically eligible for the appointment after four days.

According to parliamentary regulations, if the PHC doesn't take any decision on a candidate recommended by the Constitutional Council, the candidate will automatically become eligible for the position once 45 days elapse from the date the committee receives the recommendation letter.

The Constitutional Council had decided on January 20 to recommend Ansari and the PHC received the recommendation letter on January 24. Given this context, the failure to take a decision on Ansari's endorsement by Saturday will pave the way for his automatic appointment as chief of the commission.

The PHC had been headed towards indecision due to differences within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and also differences with coalition partner Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) .

Most NCP lawmakers on the committee are against the endorsement of Ansari. They cite controversy over his citizenship certificates, academic credentials and political affiliation.

The NCP is also one member short of a two-third majority in case it wants to reject the nomination outright. Parliamentary regulations state that the PHC shall reject a nomination only through a two-third majority of the committee members. At least 10 members of the 15-member committee should vote to reject a nomination. The NCP has only nine members .

With ruling FSFN member Rajendra Shrestha staying away from PHC meetings to express his discontent with Prime Minister K P Oli, the NCP members on the committee cannot garner a two-third majority on their own.

Main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) members on the committee have also been boycotting the hearings for constitutional body heads, to protest nominations by the Constitutional Council in the absence of the opposition party chief.

NCP lawmakers including Yogesh Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Purna Kumari Subedi, Amrita Thapa and Shiva Kumar Mandal were for rejecting Ansari through the hearings committee. Niru Pal was absent from the meeting Tuesday and Suman Kumar Pyakurel appeared neutral.

NCP lawmakers Bhattarai, Pandey and Subedi suggested to Ansari to withdraw his candidacy for the post given controversy over his citizenship and party affiliation. But Ansari declined to back down and instead challenged the hearings committee to prove him to be at fault.

Meanwhile, the PHC approved nominations for the heads of four other commissions on Tuesday, including the Madhesi, Tharu, Inclusive and Natural Resources and Fiscal Commissions.

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