UML continues House obstruction despite ‘deal’ between 3 top leadersThe main opposition now wants PM’s adviser and DPM to take back claims that accused UML of aiding loan sharking.
An ongoing blame game between the ruling and opposition parties over Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s controversial statement has led to yet another postponement of a lower house meeting on Sunday.
Hours before the meeting, leaders of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre had agreed that the opposition would allow Prime Minister Dahal to provide his clarification in Parliament on the statement, thereby ending the obstruction.
Both the Houses of the federal parliament remain obstructed since Wednesday following the UML’s demand that Dahal resign over his controversial public remark that a transport entrepreneur had lobbied with India to appoint Dahal as prime minister.
The Rastriya Swatantra Party and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party also joined the obstruction, demanding that the prime minister clarify the matter.
On July 2, Dahal, while addressing a function to launch the book ‘Roads to the Valley: The Legacy of Sardar Pritam Singh in Nepal’, had said, “He [Singh] had once made efforts to make me the prime minister. He reached Delhi several times and held multiple rounds of talks with politicians in Kathmandu to make me the prime minister.”
Amid continued protest by opposition parties, Dahal on Sunday afternoon met Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli. At the meeting, according to the leaders concerned, it was agreed that the opposition would end obstruction if Dahal clarifies the matter in Parliament.
However, the parliament secretariat, under the directive from Speaker Devraj Ghimire, postponed the lower house meeting until Monday. The government had earlier requested Ghimire for a postponement. Ruling party leaders say the House meeting was postponed as the main opposition had made up its mind to continue the obstruction even if the prime minister issued a clarification. “The House meeting was deferred as the main opposition backtracked from its commitment within an hour of the three-party meeting,” Hit Raj Pandey, the Maoist Centre chief whip, told the Post.
UML leaders say they were ready to allow the House to function if the prime minister apologized for his statement and committed not to make any such remarks in the future. “But the House meeting was postponed abruptly at the request of the prime minister. All our lawmakers had reached Parliament to listen to the prime minister, but then they postponed the meeting,” Padam Giri, the UML's chief whip, told the Post.
Answering queries from journalists on Sunday evening, Oli said they had given up the demand for Dahal's resignation on the condition that he admits his mistake in Parliament.
“However, an agreement is not possible unless they [Dahal and his party] withdraw the serious allegations against the UML,” he said.
Issuing a press statement on Thursday, Dahal’s press advisor Govinda Acharya had claimed that the House obstruction had indirectly benefited loan sharks as the government couldn’t table the replacement bill to the ordinance against usurious lending. The ordinance expired last Wednesday.
Similarly, Deputy Prime Minister and Maoist Centre senior vice chair Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the government will foil all attempts aimed at protecting loan sharks. Hinting at the opposition parties he wrote on Twitter, “....the bill aimed at taking action against loan sharks must have been endorsed from the House of Representatives today [Wednesday]. The obstruction didn't let it happen. It is now clear who is with the victims and who is against them.”
According to the constitution, any ordinance not adopted by Parliament within 60 days of the commencement of the House session loses effect. Wednesday was the last day to endorse the replacement bill on the ordinance.
The UML has said the statements made by Acharya and Shrestha are an attempt to tarnish the party's image and must be withdrawn. “But the UML didn’t discuss such conditions at the three-party meeting on Sunday. We learnt about the new conditions just before the House meeting was set to begin,” Ramesh Malla, Dahal’s chief personal secretary, told the Post.