Speaker, upper house chair at odds over parliament gen secy

Published On: March 19, 2020 08:55 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 19: Serious dispute between Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota and Chairperson of the National Assembly (NA) Ganesh Prasad Timilsina has surfaced after the latter declining to turn at a meeting summoned by the former on Wednesday. 

Sapkota and Timilsina are at loggerheads over the appointment of acting general secretary at the parliament secretariat. The head of the upper house Timilsina has expressed serious discontent over the decision of Sapkota to nominate Gopal Nath Yogi as acting general secretary at the parliament secretariat 'unilaterally'. 

According to the parliamentary regulations, the Speaker of the House of Representatives should nominate the acting general secretary after consultation with the NA chairperson. Although the speaker held a meeting with the NA chairperson prior to recommending Yogi for the post, the duo had not agreed on the name, said a source close to Timilsina. 

Venting his ire against Speaker Sapkota, NA Chair Timilsina declined to attend the meeting of the House committee chairs summoned by the former for Wednesday morning. 

“The upper house chief had informed the speaker about his decision to skip the meeting over the issue of appointing acting general secretary. He has demanded the speaker to correct his decision,” said the source. 

Timilsina had also asked the chairs of the various upper house committees to skip the meeting citing his reservation over the decision. After instruction from Timilsina, four House committee chairpersons representing the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)--Krishna Prasad Dahal, Ram Narayan Bidari, Krishna Bhakta Pokharel and Dil Kumari Rawal--suggested the speaker to cancel the meeting. 

Finally, Sapkota was compelled to cancel the meeting after learning that various House committee chairpersons mostly representing the former CPN-UML faction in the party were skipping the meeting along with Timilsina. 

The row between Sapkota and Timilsina has surfaced at a time when the post of the general secretary at the parliament secretariat is lying vacant due to the infighting between the two factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) for appointing someone loyal to the post. 

The five-year term of the erstwhile General Secretary Manohar Prasad Bhattarai expired on Sunday. 

Sapkota, who represents the former CPN (Maoist Center) in the party, wants to elevate House of Representatives secretary Yogi to the post of general secretary, said sources close to him. Yogi was appointed as the secretary of the lower house under the quote of the former Maoists two years ago.  As Yogi doesn't meet the minimum age requirement to be appointed for the position, Sapkota has been conspiring to appoint the general secretary only after one and half years, when Yogi will be eligible for the post. 

But NA Chairman Timilsina, who is close to Prime Minister K P Oli and represents the former CPN-UML faction, has expressed strong reservation against the idea of delaying the appointment in a meeting with Sapkota at the former's office on Tuesday. Some legal experts close to the former UML camp have argued that Yogi cannot be appointed even as acting general secretary as he doesn't meet the minimum age requirement to carry out the duties of the general secretary. 

According to the Federal Parliament Service Act, general secretary of the parliament secretariat should be at least 45 years. 

According to NCP sources, differences among the two House leaders reflect the clash between the two factions of the ruling NCP. 

The establishment faction has proposed appointing chief personal secretary of the president Bhesh Raj Adhikari to the vacant post of general secretary at the parliament secretariat. 

But the former Maoist faction is against the idea, according to highly-placed sources of NCP.  Staffers at the parliament secretariat have however been pressing the stakeholders to appoint senior secretary at the parliament secretariat Bharat Gautam to the vacant post.

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