House may take months to scrub PM's un-parliamentary language

Published On: May 17, 2019 06:00 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, May 17: Although Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara issued a ruling last week to remove some 'un-parliamentary words' spoken during heated exchanges between Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and opposition lawmakers who were raising some critical questions in parliament last week, it will likely take a few months to decide which specific words to remove.

As the speaker didn't mention any specific words that are to be removed from House records in his ruling on Friday, parliament secretariat officials said they are in confusion which specific words are to be scrubbed.

Mahara on May 10 ordered the parliament officials to remove 'un-parliamentary words' spoken by Prime Minister Oli as well as by other lawmakers during the House deliberations on government policy and programs on May 7 .

The speaker's ruling was made with a view to calm main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers who were obstructing House proceedings, demanding removal of 'demeaning remarks' by Oli . Oli had accused the opposition lawmakers of “asking illogical queries”.

He had said, "I am here at the rostrum to respond to questions and not to suppressed anger, frustrations and illogical questions."

This caused controversy within and outside parliament. Some lawmakers as well as commentators accused the prime minister of undermining lawmakers' right to ask questions freely. A few days later, Mahara issued his ruling .

“I direct the parliament secretariat to erase words unbecoming of parliament which were used by the prime minister while responding to queries from members of parliament during deliberations on government policy and programs,” Mahara said while issuing his ruling .

Though Mahara's ruling succeeded in ending opposition obstruction in the House, a fresh debate has erupted over whether the prime minister had in fact used 'un-parliamentary' speech.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Oli, upon his arrival back from a week-long visit to Vietnam and Cambodia , told journalists at Tribhuwan International Airport that the controversial language had not been struck off the parliamentary records.

Due to the 'vagueness' of the speaker's ruling, parliament secretariat officials are unlikely on their own to decide which words to remove and which to retain, said one such official .

The business advisory division of parliament has written to the verbatim section of the parliament secretariat to execute the ruling on removal of un-parliamentary remarks by Oli and other lawmakers.

“The business advisory division has asked the verbatim section, which transcribes House proceedings verbatim , to execute the House ruling. The concerned section will hold discussions with the speaker and senior officials of the parliament secretariat prior to choosing which words to remove as no specific words have been mentioned in the ruling,” said Rojnath Pandey, spokesperson at the secretariat.

According to officials at the verbatim section, it could take up to three months to decide the words to delete because of a backlog of work on the records .

Spokesperson Pandey informed that parliament has been planning to hire a firm on contract and also appoint new staff at the verbatim section. The parliament secretariat also plans to transcribe and publish House records from May 29, inclusive of the budget speech .

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