KATHMANDU, Sept 4: The government on September 4 decided to recommend the name of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Vice-chairman Bam Dev Gautam to President Bidya Devi Bhandari for his appointment as a member of the National Assembly.
The NCP’S Secretariat took a decision to this effect a day ago. Now Gautam is set to become a lawmaker as he will be appointed a member of the upper house of the federal parliament in place of Yuba Raj Khatiwada whose two-year term expired six months ago.
The decision will quench Gautam’s thirst of becoming a lawmaker despite his defeat in the parliamentary polls from Bardiya-1 to Nepali Congress (NC) candidate Sanjya Gautam in December 2017.
NC candidate Gautam defeated the three-time home minister by a slim margin of 727 votes. Gautam's supporters had projected him as a future prime minister in the election campaign.As per the existing constitutional provision, a person must be a lawmaker of the federal parliament to become a minister or the prime minister.
Gautam is known to have made at least seven attempts to become a lawmaker of the federal parliament since he lost the election.
In his first attempt, Gautam tried to persuade the then state minister for tourism, Dhan Bahadur Budha, to vacate his parliamentary seat in Dolpa in July, 2018.
His hope was dashed as Budha later changed his mind amid pressure from people from his constituency.
Gautam then attempted to contest from Lalitpur-1, requesting police officer-turned politician Nawaraj Silwal to clear the grounds for him. But Silwal was not ready to sacrifice his position.
But Gautam did not give up his efforts to make a comeback in parliament.
Apparently under his pressure, NCP top leadership tried to persuade Nanda Lal Rokaya, who was elected to the federal parliament from Banke-3, to step down. But Rokaya rejected the party’s request.
Amid Gautam’s insistence, the party’s General Secretary Bishnu Paudel tried to convince Rambir Manandhar to vacate his seat. Manandhar, who is elected from Kathmandu-7, was even ready to vacate his seat for Gautam.
But with the growing rift within the party and a red signal reportedly from Prime Minister Oli, Gautam backtracked on his decision to contest a by-election.
Prime Minister Oli was apparently not happy with the proposal floated by Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a rival faction leader.
Gautam then expressed his desire to contest the parliamentary election from Kaski-2, which had fallen vacant after the death of the then tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari in a helicopter crash in Taplejung.
But Gautam changed his mind in view of the widespread public criticism against his plan to contest the election. Late Adhikari’s spouse Bidya Bhattarai was later elected from the constituency.
NCP in February 2020 formed a task force for necessary homework to amend the constitution to pave the way for the National Assembly members to lead the government.
While the constitution amendment bid was aborted halfway amid public outcry, PM Oli also rejected the recommendation made by the task force to recommend Gautam as a member of the upper house.
Amid continuing pressure from Gautam to nominate him as a member of the federal parliament, a meeting of the party’s secretariat on May 2, 2020 decided to elect Gautam as a member of the House of Representatives ‘at an appropriate time”.
Earlier on April 29, 2020, Prime Minister Oli had made an offer to make Gautam the prime minister at an appropriate time and Madhav Kumar Nepal the third chairman of the party to settle the intra-party row. But that did not happen.
Gautam has expressed his desire to become Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister after his appointment as a member of the upper house.
Whether his desire will be materialized is yet to be seen as some constitutional experts argue that the constitution bars a person defeated in the parliamentary election to be a minister or the prime minister.