House sees heated debate among ruling MPs on political systemMPs opposing the provisions under which they joined the Cabinet is unnatural, experts say.
Lawmakers from the ruling parties have started questioning the federal republic system enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal. Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, the lawmakers of the ruling parties engaged in a heated debate over the political system mandated by the constitution.
Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) lawaker Dhawal Shamsher Rana, who is also general secretary of the party, told the House on Wednesday that RPP lawmakers should not be barred from speaking about the party’s agenda of reinstating Hindu kingdom and against the federal system as that was the mandate that the party got from its voters.
“We came here with the agenda of reinstating the democratic system that includes monarchy. Our party got public support for the same agenda and the constitution doesn’t bar us from raising this issue because these aren’t unamendable provisions in the statute,” Rana said. “This doesn’t mean that we are against this system. We will fight for change while staying within this system.”
Another RPP lawmaker Gyan Bahadur Shahi, speaking in the same meeting, seconded Rana’s arguments.
CPN-UML lawmaker Raghuji Panta told Parliament that the prime minister and ministers giving contradictory statements about the fundamental features of the constitution was a matter of serious concern.
“The prime minister and the ministers are publicly disputing over the fundamental features of the constitution,” Panta said. “A minister who took the oath under this constitution should not speak against the spirit of the charter.”
Raj Kishor Yadav of Janata Samajbadi Party also strongly objected to the statements of RPP lawmakers.
He said the ministers who took the oath of office as per the constitution and challenged the constitutional provision had betrayed the system. Yadav threatened to picket the rostrum if such acts weren’t stopped.
RPP lawmakers raised the issues concerning the federal and republic system on the same day RPP chair Rajendra Lingden, who is also deputy prime minister, held a meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to discuss the issues.
“The meeting between Prime Minister Dahal and Deputy Prime Minister Lingden was focused on RPP leaders’ recent statements about the political system,” Manahari Timilsina, press expert to Prime Minister Dahal, told the Post.
RPP spokesperson Mohan Shrestha, however, made a different claim.
“Prime Minister Dahal and our party president, who is also a deputy prime minister, discussed various issues regarding governance,” Shrestha told the Post. “I do not think they might have discussed the statement given by our party leaders on the federal structure.”
Earlier, on January 26, Urban Development Minister and RPP Vice-president Bikram Pandey had said that the country’s federal structure would be unacceptable to his party. Despite Prime Minister Dahal having warned his ministers not to make statements against the federal republican system, Minister Pandey said he would not follow Dahal’s instruction.
Moreover, Minister of Law and Justice Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan, who is also from the RPP, had said in a television interview that his party does not support federalism and that “the federal structure of the country should be scrapped.”
Prime Minister Dahal, addressing the National Assembly meeting on January 24, had said that one of his Cabinet members had made a remark against the federal system in a TV interview and he would seek clarification from the minister on the matter.
“Though the prime minister had vowed to demand clarification from the minister who spoke against the federal system, it is still unclear whether he actually did it,” Panta, the UML lawmaker, said. “The prime minister and his ministers should not dispute publicly about the political system.”
Yadav also asked details whether the prime minister had sought clarification from the ministers who gave ‘anti-constitutional statements’.
Pitambar Sharma, former vice chair of the National Planning Commission, expresses surprise that lawmakers were not opposed even when they were raising anti-constitutional issues in Parliament.
“It is unnatural for ministers and lawmakers of the coalition to oppose the constitutional provisions under which they have joined the government,” Sharma told the Post. “It surprises me to see coalition partners behaving like opposition parties in Parliament.”