KATHMANDU, Dec 21: With the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) failing to pick a candidate for speaker, the election for the House leader has been deferred for at least a week although the winter session of parliament began Friday after a gap of three months.
The next meeting of the House of Representatives has been deferred until December 27. The meeting, according to informed sources, was delayed after the ruling leaders sought time to produce a consensus candidate in the party for speaker.
NCP is in a fix after various factions in the party want to appoint their own loyalists to the post of speaker, a crucial position. Of late, former speaker Subas Nembang, Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe and former minister Agni Sapkota have been lobbying to get the position.
Upon a request from the ruling party leaders, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), an all-party mechanism responsible to recommend the House agenda, on Friday scheduled the next meeting of the parliament for December 27. The next House meeting is expected to announce the date for the election to pick new speaker and deputy speaker, according to the leaders attending the meeting.
Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe is most likely to resign her post prior to the next House meeting to pave the way for the parliament to announce the election of both speaker and deputy speaker simultaneously, leaders of the ruling NCP said.
The position of the lower house speaker remains vacant since October 1 following the resignation of the then speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara. He resigned after facing charge of attempted rape and is currently in jail for investigations.
Given its majority in the lower house, the ruling NCP is almost certain to bag the speaker’s position while it must cede the deputy speaker position to another political party due to a mandatory provision in the constitution.
At least three dozen bills are pending in parliament. Deliberations on the bills and endorsement of the much-talked MCC grant agreement are expected to dominate the winter session of the House, also known as the bills session.
Deputy Speaker Tumbahangphe chaired the meeting of the House of Representatives on Friday amid confusions over whether she should chair the meeting because the parliamentary regulations state that speaker should begin and close each meeting.
The winter session of both houses of the federal parliament commenced simultaneously with the National Assembly Chairman Ganesh Prasad Timilsina and Deputy Speaker Tumbahagphe reading out letters received from the president’s office about the summoning of the both houses of parliament.
Both houses passed condolence motions on the demise of four former lawmakers including Hari Bairagi, Kamala Ghimire Subedi, Ramlakhan Mahato, and Rameshwar Dhungel Friday.
Leaders representing major political parties also addressed the meeting of the upper house on Friday.
Addressing the National Assembly meeting, parliamentary party leader of the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) Surendra Prasad Pandey demanded withdrawal of the Nepal Special Service Act from parliament claiming that the bill has encroached on the constitutional right to privacy of citizens. “I want to urge the government not to invite a confrontation between the ruling and the opposition in parliament through the controversial bills,” said Pandey.
He also protested the government’s recent attempt to amend the Constitutional Council Act through an ordinance during the prorogation of parliament session. Pandey also demanded information on the government’s initiatives, if any, toward taking back the Indian-encroached Kalapani and Lipulekh areas. “We are unaware if the government has taken any diplomatic initiatives to resolve the Kalapani issue so far,” he said.
The next meeting of the upper house has been scheduled for Monday.