Foreign junkets help delay House panel head picks

Published On: August 18, 2018 06:52 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, Aug 18: One of the major reasons behind postponements of elections to pick the heads of parliamentary committees is found to be foreign junkets by lawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC). 

Among five lawmakers scheduled to embark on a 10-day China visit on Monday to attend a democracy workshop, two are NCP leaders eyeing the chairmanship of committees under the House of Representatives. NCP leaders Birodh Khatiwada, Amrita Thapamagar and Ram Kumari Jhakri and NC leaders Surendra Pandey and Dila Sangroula are included in the delegation to China. Jhakri is claiming the chair of the Finance Committee of the lower house and Thapamagar the chair of the Women and Social Committee.

Both Thapamagar and Jhakri had briefed Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara prior to the  House meeting on Friday about the conflict in schedules between their visit and the election of the house committee chairs. But Thapamagar claimed that the visit was not a major reason behind postponement of the committee head elections.

“The speaker had decided to postpone the elections prior to our visit. We then just asked him to schedule the next date only after our return,” Thapamagar told Republica. She further added that they were ready to postpone their departure if the elections were to be held as pre-scheduled . 

Chief Whip of  NCP Dev Gurung also informed that the foreign visit was among many reasons behind the election postponement. “There are multiple reasons behind the deferral. Some of our lawmakers will be out of the country on that day, the main opposition NC had also requested a postponement  until the return of their president from Singapore, and lawmakers from the Muslim community wanted a deferral as the poll date falls on the last day of the festival of Bakr-Eid,” Gurung told reporters after the House meeting Friday. He also added that the NCP is yet to decide the candidates for the various parliamentary heads but claimed that that may not be a key reason behind the election postponement. 

Speaker Mahara announced at the House of Representatives  Friday that the election date was postponed to September 2 due to a ‘special reason’. Earlier, the elections of 10 lower house committees was scheduled for August 21. Similarly, the National Assembly has also postponed the elections of its three committees to August 19 from the 13th.

NCP not to field former ministers on house committee heads 
According to  NCP leaders, the party has decided not to field former ministers and former parliamentary committee heads in the parliamentary committee elections. This decision will bar Ghanashyam Bhusal, who was likely to head the Finance Committee from the party, from contesting. Former student leader Ram Kumari Jhakri has now become the likely candidate to head the committee. 

The decision will also bar former ministers who are members of the Finance Committee from heading the House committees. These include Bhusal, Bishnu Paudel, Surendra Pandey, Satya Pahadi and Mahesh Basnet .

The other aspirants for different House committees, including Jaipuri Gharti for the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Rights Committee, Pampha Bhusal for State Affairs Committee, and Purna Kumari Subedi or Haribol Gajurel for the Agriculture Committee,  will now be unable to head those  committees.

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