Congress accuses Speaker of siding with government

  • Opposition leaders demand Oli’s remarks be removed from record
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

May 8, 2019-

In a rare event in the country’s parliamentary history, the government’s policies and programmes were endorsed without the prime minister answering the counter-questions by lawmakers on Tuesday, as the Speaker continued the meeting of the House of Representatives, ignoring the concerns raised by the main opposition.

As Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli stepped up to the rostrum to answer questions, Nepali Congress lawmakers stood from their seats, demanding that some of his comments be removed from the parliament records because they were derogatory. Oli had begun his answer

saying, “I will leave aside some trivial comments emanating from anger and complexes and rather address other concerns.”

Congress lawmakers immediately took issue with the prime minister’s statement, arguing that he undermined the authority of lawmakers by saying that their questions were trivial and that they were the manifestation of their complexes. Most lawmakers remained adamant that they would not cooperate unless Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara ordered officials to strike the prime minister’s remarks off the records.

However, Mahara said his attention was drawn to the Congress party’s concerns and that he would decide on the matter later. His repeated requests that they allow Oli to answer their concerns were rejected by the opposition.

This led the prime minister to return to his seat without answering the questions while the Speaker continued the House proceedings to endorse the policies and programmes. Lawmakers had asked counter questions to the prime minister following his clarification on the issues raised during the deliberation on policies and programmes, presented in the federal parliament on Friday.

Discussions were held for two days before the document was tabled for endorsement after Oli responded to lawmakers’ questions.

Mahara presented the amendment proposal registered by the Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and the Nepali Congress, while lawmakers from the main opposition were still standing from their seats.

The House is considered obstructed even when a single lawmaker stands from his or her seat opposing the proceedings.

“The Speaker failed to maintain the dignity and decorum of Parliament,” said Minendra Rijal, a Congress member in the House. He added that the incident had justified their claim that Oli was attacking the supremacy of various institutions, including Parliament.

Later in the day, the Congress issued a statement, condemning Oli’s remarks. The party has demanded that Mahara remove the remarks of the prime minister.

Congress leaders say they would take the issues to the people, exposing the government. Rijal said that Mahara, by taking the House proceedings forward despite objections from the opposition, acted as a leader from the ruling party taking orders from the government.

Political analysts say the Speaker could have adjourned the House for some time.

“The Speaker failed to show maturity,” said Geja Sharma Wagle, a political commentator. “This incident is unparliamentary and must not repeat.”

Even Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal leader Laxman Lal Karna had suggested that the Speaker end the row before presenting the policies and programmes for endorsement. The Speaker, however, ignored his call.

This is the second time this year that the opposition’s voice has been ignored in the House. In January, the National Medical Education Bill was pushed through amid obstruction of the House of Representatives by the Nepali Congress. The Speaker had facilitated the tabling of the bill for a vote by deploying marshalls.

Published: 08-05-2019 10:57

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