KATHMANDU, Oct 26: The public expected parliamentary proceeding on the impeachment motion against CIAA chief Lokman Singh Karki to move forward expeditiously and the major political parties had also reached an informal agreement to hold deliberations on the motion till Wednesday and then turn it over to the Impeachment Recommendation Committee (IRC).
But on Tuesday, the major parties suddenly decided to defer the deliberations for the next two weeks, leaving enough ground for speculation and raising doubts over their intentions. The next House meeting is scheduled for November 10.
What exactly led the parties to defer the House for two weeks? Leaders across the parties have different explanations.
While the upcoming Tihar and Chhath festivals provide genuine reasons for the major parties to defer the House deliberations for a week, there is no reason for putting off parliamentary proceedings for another week. The IRC would have submitted its report by the end of that week if the House had forwarded the motion to it for necessary investigations.
Leaders of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) argue that the indecision of the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) is one of the main reasons behind the deferral of House deliberation. Although a section of the NC Central Working Committee (CWC) members made a strong case for backing the impeachment motion against the CIAA chief, the NC remains undecided whether or not to back the impeachment.
An overwhelming majority of NC leaders during the CWC meeting that concluded on Tuesday suggested to the party leadership not to fall prey to any conspiracy of the UML and the Maoist Center to bring down the current ruling coalition. They also suggested that the NC should not back the motion as it was not consulted before the motion was introduced in Parliament.
However, NC’s indecision was not the sole reason behind the deferral of House deliberations on the impeachment. A senior UML leader said on condition of anonymity that the deferral was also to provide an opportunity for Karki to step down on his own, and to await the apex court verdict on a writ petition that challenges Karki’s appointment as CIAA chief. “Our hope is that the NC would eventually back the impeachment motion as the gap also provides an opportunity for major parties to reach some kind of agreement on the issue,” the UML leader said.
The support of the NC, which has 207 seats in Parliament, is a must for passing the impeachment motion through a two-thirds majority.
As there is overwhelmingly negative sentiment among people about Karki, the UML and the Maoist Center have a feeling the NC would feel pressured to back the motion even as the court case against him proceeds. “However undecided for now, we don’t think the NC can go against public opinion,” the UML leader further said.
While admitting that the decision to defer House deliberations on impeachment was taken suddenly, Maoist Center Chief Whip Tek Bahadur Basnet claimed that the decision was taken in consensus with all major parties including the NC. “It is true that the decision to defer the deliberations was taken suddenly, but it was introduced in consensus with the other major parties,” he told Republica.
UML lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari also claimed that the decision to defer deliberations was taken in consensus rather than unilaterally. “The deliberations were deferred after formally initiating the process of impeachment in Parliament in order to avoid any possibility of foul play,” he said.
However, NC Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha alleged that UML and the Maoist Center had unilaterally decided to defer the deliberations for two weeks. “They informed me only after taking the decision. Then I also gave my consent,” he said, while arguing that NC’s indecision is not the reason behind the decision to defer deliberations.
A senior NC leader said NC wants to tie up the impeachment motion with the constitution amendment to address various demands raised by the Madhesi parties. NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba had put forth the issue of constitution amendment during a meeting of top leaders of the three major parties held at Baluwatar, Wednesday.