Speaker in fix with parties at odds over House business

Published On: July 21, 2016 07:22 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, July 20: Speaker Onsari Gharti is in a fix as the ruling and opposition parties are at loggerheads over whether parliament should first take up the no-confidence motion or endorse the remaining budget-related bills.

Leaders from the ruling and opposition parties were sharply divided over the issue at the meeting of Parliament’s Business Advisory Committee (BAC) on Wednesday. Leaders of the ruling CPN-UML threatened to obstruct parliament’s meeting if the no-confidence motion is put up for discussion first, in contravention of the government’s recommendations. 

After consultations with the president and the chiefs of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN (Maoist Center) and a BAC meeting on Wednesday, Speaker Gharti said she will bring up the no-confidence motion for a decision if the parties fail to find any common ground prior to the House meeting slated for Thursday at 11 am. 

“I will discuss this with the top guns of the major parties in parliament before its meeting on Thursday. If my efforts yield no positive result, I will put up the no-confidence motion for a decision,” Gharti told journalists Wednesday evening.

She had consulted with President Bidya Bhandari, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday and with Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Tuesday.

“President Bhandari has suggested to the Speaker to move forward with consensus, cooperation and unity as that alone could pave the way for the constitution implementation process,” reads a statement issued by the office of the president. 

During separate meetings with the Speaker, Deuba and Dahal assured her they would hold talks with the ruling parties to persuade them to agree to discussions on the no-confidence motion first, said her press advisor Bashudev Sharma. At the meeting with Dahal, Gharti had stated that she would forward the no-confidence motion for a decision in the House if the parties couldn’t reach consensus on what should be done. 

The BAC meeting in the afternoon witnessed heated debate between leaders from ruling and opposition parties as both sides stuck to their guns.  Leaders from the ruling CPN-UML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-N), CPN-ML, Rastriya Janamorcha, and Nepal Workers Peasants Party (NWPP) have insisted on first endorsing the  three remaining budget-related bills for this fiscal year. Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Agni Kharel argued that the Speaker should not halt the existing business brought in by the government as the House hasn’t officially been informed so far that the government is reduced to minority, said CPN-ML chief whip Aindra Sundar Nembang.

Also at the meeting, UML lawmaker Rajendra Pandey threatened to obstruct the House meeting if the Speaker put up the no-confidence motion for discussions or voting prior to tackling the budget-related bills, said Akhanda Nepal Party lawmaker Kumar Khadka. 
But parties on the opposition side including Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center), parties under the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and half a dozen fringe parties pressed Speaker Gharti to put the no-confidence motion up for decision first, said NC chief whip Chinkaji Shrestha. 

“The government has already been reduced to a minority after the main coalition partner pulled out. Thus the government should win the confidence  of the House before demanding to see its bills being endorsed,” he said.

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