Poll body seeks clarification on Tribhuvan University teachers’ involvement in party politicsIn 2021, the Patan High Court had ruled those drawing a salary and taking benefits from state coffers should not be involved in party politics.
Following complaints that Tribhuvan University teachers are involved in party politics, the Election Commission has sought clarification from the TU administration.
The commission has asked whether the teachers at the university were involved in party politics and if yes why they were allowed to do so. The constitutional commission has also written to the respective parties asking whether they had assigned any responsibility of the party to the lecturers, associate professors and professors.
“We have sought clarification from the TU administration and parties about the involvement of the in-service teaching staff in politics,” Guru Wagle, a legal officer at the commission, told the Post. “The clarification was sought based on the complaints we received.”
The complaint says that Yubraj Poudel, coordinator of the Nepal Samajabadi Morcha, is an associate professor at the Central Department of Management. Jagat Timilsina, Rajendra Gautam and Krishna Kant Parajuli, who are associate professors, are leaders of the Nepali Congress-affiliated Democratic Professors Association. Timilsina chairs the association while Parajuli and Gautam are its vice-chairperson and general secretary, respectively.
Parajuli, the complaint says, is a Congress Mahasamiti member and general convention representative. Uma Shankar Prasad, an associate professor at the University, is a central committee member of the Janata Samajbadi Party.
The Political Parties Act, 2017 bars in-service teachers, professors or other government employees from actively participating in politics. “Involvement in party politics is a misuse of authority,” Wagle said. “The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority can take action on the matter. We will first investigate the matter and recommend actions if their involvement in party politics is established.”
Not just the University teachers, school teachers too have been found to be involved in direct politics, against the existing law and court ruling. On October 5, 2021, the Patan High Court had ruled that school teachers cannot engage in active politics. Responding to a writ petition, the court had said that those drawing a salary and taking benefits from the state coffers should not be involved in politics.
However, a significant number of general convention representatives of the Congress and the CPN-UML were school teachers. As many as 263 delegates, or more than five percent of the total representatives in the Congress general convention, were teachers. The Congress convention held in December 2021 elected Sher Bahadur Deuba the party president.
Though the exact numbers were not made public, dozens of representatives at the UML general convention held in November 2021 were also school teachers.