KATHMANDU, Jan 10: With just two days left for the next scheduled meeting of the lower house, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has not yet held ‘serious’ discussions to decide its candidate for new speaker.
NCP’s failure to select a speaker candidate is holding up some important business in parliament’s ongoing winter session.
Given the current arithmetic of the political parties represented in the lower house, no other political parties can elect a speaker or deputy speaker without the support of the NCP. But infighting between the two factions of the party – the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN-UML– over speaker candidate is preventing the house from getting down to regular business.
After deferring the lower house meeting three times at the request of the NCP, opposition party leaders have started criticizing it for holding the house hostage to its indecision.
Main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) leader Jitendra Dev drew the attention of political parties over the delay in the election of a speaker. Speaking at the National Assembly on Thursday, he said, “Delay in electing the speaker has left the house hostage to the NCP and some of its leaders. This is contempt of parliament.” Dev urged the NCP not to postpone the speaker election process scheduled to begin from Sunday.
However, some NCP leaders said the next meeting of the lower house scheduled for Sunday is also likely to be postponed as the two party chairmen, KP Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, are yet to agree on the speaker candidate. A meeting held between them last week failed to make any headway. Dahal said he was under pressure not to relinquish the post of speaker in favor of the UML faction in the party.
Some in the NCP claimed that the party has been mulling to decide the speaker candidate only after the National Assembly election scheduled for January 23. “The party leadership seems to be wary that any decision over the speaker could affect the voting in the upper house poll,” said one NCP leader. NCP is fielding 16 candidates for the 18 positions lying vacant in the upper house.
Following dispute between former UML and former Maoist factions the party over which faction should get the speaker, the NCP leadership has failed to take a decision acceptable to both factions.
Asked about this, NCP spokesman Narayan Kaji Shrestha claimed that the selection of speaker has become stuck after Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe has declined to resign her post. “Our party wants to take the speaker post but technically we cannot field a candidate until the deputy speaker resigns,” he said. “She is one of the reasons behind the delay in picking the speaker,” he said.
The lower house has failed to hold a single meeting after the start of the winter session on December 20. After the formalities of the first meeting of the parliamentary session, the lower house scheduled its next meeting for December 27. But the meeting was deferred for January 1 through a notice.
The post of speaker is lying vacant since the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara in early October after he was accused of attempted rape.