PM’s apology ends House impasseSays he realised it was inappropriate for a prime minister to make a statement hinting at another country’s intervention in Nepali parliamentary process to elect the executive head.
The meetings of the House of Representatives, which were obstructed by the opposition parties since last week over a controversial statement of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, resumed on Monday after the prime minister apologised to Parliament.
On July 2, Dahal, while launching the book ‘Roads to the Valley: The Legacy of Sardar Pritam Singh in Nepal’, in Kathmandu, had said, “He [Singh] had once made efforts to make me prime minister. He reached Delhi several times and held multiple rounds of talks with politicians in Kathmandu to make me prime minister.”
The House could not resume until Monday even after the leader of the main opposition KP Sharma Oli on Sunday agreed with top leaders of the ruling coalition to end the obstruction.
“Although it was not my intent [to suggest that India has a role in appointing prime ministers in Nepal], I would like to express my regret for the statement,” Dahal said at the House of Representatives.
He requested everyone to ignore the previous statements issued by his secretariat as well as the one put out by Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha criticising the House obstruction and said only the statement he made in Parliament on Monday should be considered authentic.
Prime Minister Dahal, addressing the lower house, clarified the context of his statement, saying that he made an emotional speech at the book launch, not as the prime minister but as a father whose dying daughter was once helped by Singh. (Dahal’s daughter Gyanu KC passed away in 2014 after a prolonged fight with cancer. Singh was apparently helping with her treatment in India.) But Dahal said he later realised that such a statement was inappropriate for the country’s prime minister.
Dahal, however, said it was wrong of the UML and its lawmakers to insinuate that India had a role in appointing him prime minister and to call for his resignation since he was elected to the post through joint efforts of the UML and other parties.
“The language of my statement [made at the book launch] might have been inappropriate, but how can anyone question the integrity of the entire Parliament [that elected me]?” Dahal said.
During the meeting of the three top leaders—UML chair Oli, Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist Centre chief Dahal—prior to the sitting of the House, Dahal had agreed to apologise in Parliament for his statement made at last Wednesday’s book launch and another one issued by his secretariat accusing the UML of siding with loan sharks by preventing the tabling of a replacement bill on the anti-usury ordinance.
Rastriya Swatantra Party chief Rabi Lamichhane and Rastriya Prajatantra Party chair Rajendra Lingden accused the three big parties of taking Parliament hostage by stalling and resuming its meetings at their discretion.
Lamichhane accused the Speaker of not allowing his lawmakers to put forth their views and of attempts to bundle his party with the main opposition on crucial issues.
Interestingly, the leader of the main opposition, Oli, was not present at the House meeting.
Dahal, responding to Rastriya Prajatantra Party chief Lingden, who demanded that Dahal resign on moral grounds for his controversial statement, claimed that no other prime minister had resigned from the post as easily as he did.
Dahal also told the House that he wants to root out corruption and seeks the support of all parties in the endeavour.
On Sunday, the UML had backtracked from an agreement with the government to end the obstruction and the House meeting was subsequently postponed until Monday afternoon.
Dahal on Sunday afternoon met Deuba and Oli during which Oli had agreed to end obstruction if Dahal apologised to Parliament for his controversial statement.
The main opposition party has taken the prime minister’s apology positively. After Monday’s House meeting, UML chief whip Padam Giri said, “He admitted to the mistake and promised not to repeat it. We have taken his statement positively.”