Experts say capable candidates are ignored, while party cadres are landing big government appointments
KATHMANDU, Oct 2: Although the Constitution of Nepal 2015 has guaranteed proportional inclusion of all social groups, constitutional experts have said that the recent political appointments by the government make a “mockery” of the constitution. Constitutional experts say that the government is instead making the appointments based on their affinity to the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). The recent appointments do not include no women, Madheshis or individuals from other backward groups.
“The KP Sharma Oli-led government is making a mockery of the constitution. The government has handpicked people who are close to the ruling party. Let’s forget about inclusiveness, the move by the government is against the spirit of the constitution,” Dr Bhimarjun Acharya, a constitutional expert, told Republica.
Dr Acharya also said that party cadres are being rewarded with appointments, and the deserving candidates have been ignored. “Although the appointments are not against the law, it is against the spirit of the constitution that ensures inclusiveness and equality. Will a party cadre be loyal to political parties or to the people?” questioned Dr Acharya.
Acharya cited the recent appointment of Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada as the ambassador to the United States of America. “After his tenure as a National Assembly member ended and resigned as minister for finance, Khatiwada was appointed as a special economic advisor to Prime Minister KP Oli. After 15 days, the government appoints Khatiwada as the ambassador to the United States. Can we see equality and inclusiveness?” he questioned, adding those handpicked for appointments will never work independently, rather they will always be guided by political interest.
In the last few months, all the appointments made by the government have garnered controversies as KP Sharma Oli is accused of handpicking NCP cadres for big appointments.
Last Sunday, the government appointed vice-chancellors in three universities – Nepal Sanskrit, Agriculture and Forestry, and Pokhara— following an agreement between NCP chairman duo KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and Nepali Congress Chairman Sher Bahadur Deuba. The government has appointed Yadav Lamichhane, who is close to KP Oli, to Nepal Sanskrit University, Punya Prasad Regmi, close to NCP Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, to Agriculture and Forestry University, and Prem Aryal, who is close to Deuba, to Pokhara University.
As per the Constitution of Nepal 2015, appointments are to be made in accordance with the inclusive principle. Also, the appointments of ambassadors and special emissaries are to be made on the basis of the principle of inclusion.
Commenting on the recent appointments in the three universities, Bimala Rai Paudyal, a NCP National Assembly member, said that the recent trend shows that inclusiveness is only limited to the constitution. “I don’t want to comment on the appointments of ambassadors, but the government could have appointed Dr Sharada Thapaliya to the post of vice-chancellor at Agriculture and Forestry University. She was the acting vice-chancellor. She was a capable candidate, but the government didn’t appoint her,” she said, adding that inclusiveness is limited to the parliament and local levels.
“I am not saying the newly-appointed vice-chancellor is not capable, but why did the government bring a new face when Dr Thapaliya was capable and was properly handling responsibilities there,” questioned Paudyal.
Likewise, Dr Acharya also said that the recent political appointments show that capable candidates have to be close to political leaders in order to land big appointments. “The country is in such a situation that capable and qualified people will not get appointments without the interest of KP Oli,” he said, adding that the government doesn’t understand the spirit of the constitution.
Constitutional experts also say that negotiations between leaders for political appointments show the government just wants to serve political cadres, a violation of the constitution.
The appointment of Upendra Kumar Koirala as the chairperson of the Rastriya Banijya Bank created a public outcry. The government was dragged into controversy as Koirala, who is the father-in-law of NCP leader Ishwar Pokhrel, has landed several cushy appointments over the years.
Likewise, appointments of Sushil Bhatta as the chief executive officer of the Investment Board of Nepal, and Guru Bhattarai as the general manager of Nepal Railway also garnered controversies. People blasted the government, and accused that Bhatta was appointed by breaching meritocracy, while Bhattarai was rewarded for his loyalty to NCP.
The recent appointment of chief secretary Lok Darshan Regmi as the ambassador to the United Kingdom also caused a public outcry. The government is accused of making Regmi resign from the post of chief secretary to appoint Shankar Das Bairagi to the post.
“The recent appointments may be as per the law, but do they embody the spirit of the constitution?” Bipin Adhikari, a constitutional expert, questioned. “The government is appointing political cadres in vacant posts. This is against the constitution,” he said, adding that only those who are close to political leaders are being rewarded.