Government’s reluctance to abide by House rulings irks Madhes-based partiesOpposition MPs accuse Speaker Mahara of acting like a minister in the Oli administration
When Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara allowed the National Medical Education Bill to pass through the House in January amid obstructions by the main opposition, Nepali Congress, he faced criticism for siding with the government.
Only recently, Mahara again allowed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to respond to questions raised by opposition lawmakers in relation to the government’s policies and programmes just when they were standing, which suggests obstruction by lawmakers.
Lawmakers from the opposition benches have of late criticised the speaker for failing to maintain the dignity of his position and working as a minister.
They say both the government and the speaker are working in tandem, ignoring the opposition’s voice, which they say is against the parliamentary practice.
While Mahara has appeared to be siding with the government, the government has not been taking the House rulings seriously. And this has angered the parties in the opposition.
Following the demands from the Madhes-based parties, Speaker Mahara on March 13 had directed the government to make public a report prepared by the High Level Probe Commission led by Girish Chandra Lal, former justice at the Supreme Court.
Three months have passed since the ruling, but the government is yet to act on the ruling.
The Lal Commission had submitted the report after investigating the cases of atrocities during the months-long protest in the Tarai in 2015 against the promulgation of the constitution.
Similarly, ministers of the KP Sharma Oli-led Cabinet have objected to the directive of the State Affairs Committee of the Lower House to cancel the vacancy notice published by the Public Service Commission to hire staff for local governments.
They have said the directive was against the existing legal provisions.
“This government is refusing to listen to the parties in opposition,” said Laxman Lal Karna of the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal while addressing a meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
“It listens only when there is a House obstruction. It is promoting the culture of demonstration by ignoring the legitimate voice.”
The Madhes-based party started exerting pressure on the government to make the Lal commission report public after Resham Chaudhary, an elected member of parliament from the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, in March was convicted of masterminding the Tikapur violence which took the lives of 11 people, including a child, in 2015.
The party has been saying the incident was political in nature and hence should be dealt with politically and not as a criminal offence.
Karna said the incumbent government neither implements the parliamentary rulings and directives nor addresses the concerns raised by the opposition parties.
Apart from ignoring the directives of the Lower House and the parliamentary committee, the government has taken no step towards addressing the demands of Madhesi parties for the amendment of the constitution.
The Lal-led commission had submitted the report to then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in December 2017. The commission was formed in February 2016 to look into the atrocities committed during the Madhes and Tharuhat protests in 2015.
Protests had erupted in the run-up to the constitution promulgation, as regional parties opposed the plans of four major forces to push the statute through the Constituent Assembly. The commission investigated a total of 3,264 complaints registered with it.
According to the report, 66 people-including 10 police personnel, an 18-month-old child, four-year old Samman Patel, and 15-year-old Nitu Yadav-were killed during the movement. Of them, 62, including police officials, were declared martyrs, while four had not been conferred the status.
The commission visited 18 districts for the probe. In Tikapur of Kailali, 10 policemen and an 18-month-old child were brutally killed by agitators in August 2015. The report has recommended that the government strengthen the mechanism to control riots and agitations.
But the report is still under wraps despite the House ruling to make it public.
Similarly, in the case of Public Service Commission notice, the State Affairs Committee on June 10 directed the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and the Public Service Commission to halt the recruitment process aimed at hiring thousands of government employees at the local level.
Last month, the service commission issued a vacancy notice for 9,161 staffers at 515 local governments. However, various social organisations, political parties and sections of society denounced the vacancy notice, saying that it was against the spirit of federalism and the principle of inclusion.
Karna said Minister for Local Administration Lal Babu Pandit and Chairman of the Public Service Commission Umesh Mainali have made a mockery of the directives of the sovereign parliamentary committee.
“Is the government compelling us for yet another protest by ignoring our concerns?” said Karna.