KATHMANDU, Sept 22: Prime Minister KP Oli has expressed dissatisfaction with lawmakers of his own party, especially those heading the parliamentary committees, who have not been toeing the party line over key decisions. He has asked them to defend the government's “good work” through all available political forums and through social media platforms.
Without naming any lawmakers or parliamentary committees, Oli, who is also parliamentary party leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, asked all lawmakers from the party to come to the defense of the government whenever its decisions and activities are subjected to criticism. He also asked lawmakers heading the parliamentary committees to work in line with the policies and decisions adopted by the party instead of going against the official party line.
“The government has done so many good things. It is working hard to deliver even better results. But some anti-government and anti-republic forces are criticizing us for nothing,” said Oli while addressing lawmakers attending a parliamentary party meeting of the NCP. “Stand with the government in its decisions. Come to its defense against such forces that criticize us despite the good performance that we are delivering.”
The lawmakers were also asked to go to their election constituencies and inform the voters about the good and great things being done by the government.
In recent days, the ruling party with its near two-thirds majority in parliament has been facing criticism from both within the party and without for poor delivery. The government feels 'non-cooperation' from its own party members when it comes to countering criticism from opposition parties, civil society and the media, according to party leaders.
Some ruling party leaders have also been vocal against the government. For instance, Bhim Rawal has been consistently criticizing the government's decisions. Lawmaker Birodh Khatiwada also often ridicules its decisions whereas Ram Kumari Jhakri, another lawmaker, is given to venting her ire against the government.
Meanwhile, the government's Citizenship Bill with its provision requiring foreign women marrying Nepali nationals to wait seven years before acquiring Nepali citizenship has run into opposition party objections to this threshold caveat.
Shashi Shrestha, the NCP lawmaker who heads parliament's State Affairs Committee, has been unable since weeks to settle this point at the committee level.
Some NCP lawmakers accuse Shrestha of not toeing the party line. One lawmaker who is close to Oli as accused her of tabling the proposal without consulting lawmakers of the party.
Several other contested bills have been put on hold or rejected entirely. Failing to garner enough support, the government is reconciled to taking back the disputed National Security Council Bill which was registered some six months ago.
This bill, which was registered by Minister for Defense Ishwar Pokharel at the House of Representatives back in March, has proposed enabling the prime minister to mobilize the Nepal Army directly through a cabinet decision in exceptional cases of emergency. This provision ran into sharp criticism from various lawmakers.
The government has already withdrawn the Guthi [Trusts] Bill following huge protests from lawmakers and from the people of Kathmandu Valley.
The National Human Rights Commission Bill, the Public Service Commission Bill, Bill on Peace and Order and Bill on National Priority Projects are all on hold due to protests from stakeholders over various controversial provisions that these contain.
And this is not the first time that the leadership of the ruling party has asked their lawmakers to close ranks and counter any criticism from opponents.
A few days ago, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who is also from the NCP, instructed the parliamentary committees not to get in the way of the government's moves.
The speaker of parliament is considered a neutral position, but that has not prevented Mahara from telling parliamentary committees and lawmakers not to act in ways that hamper the government.
At Saturday's parliamentary party meeting, Puspa Kamal Dahal, the other party chief, urged lawmakers to strengthen the party organization and merge the erstwhile Maoist and UML cadres. He also stressed the need to clear any confusion created by what he described as regressive forces, said lawmakers attending the meeting.