Coalition offers House panel chair to RPP eyeing support in Koshi ProvinceRastriya Prajatantra Party leaders, however, reckon they deserve to lead a committee based on their own strength.
Almost eight months after the first meeting of the House of Representatives, the 10 thematic parliamentary committees are set to get their heads on Monday.
Chairpersons of the two joint committees of both the House of Representatives and National Assembly, however, will be elected later.
For the 10 thematic committees of the lower house, 11 candidates have filed nominations for the election of their chairs.
The positions remained vacant for months due to the dispute among the parties represented in Parliament over the leadership of the House committees. Members of the committees were finalised on April 28.
Of the two committees allocated to the CPN (Maoist Centre), the party has decided to cede the leadership of the Infrastructure Development Committee to the right-wing Rastriya Prajatantra Party in a gesture to welcome the reluctant party in a power sharing deal with the ruling coalition.
The RPP’s rigid stance against joining the government in Koshi has complicated the government formation process in the province and made it uncertain. But with the RPP prepared to accept the coalition’s offer to lead a House committee, the ruling parties are hopeful that they can save their government in Koshi with the RPP’s backing.
Maoist Centre lawmaker Madhav Sapkota was preparing to file his candidacy for the leadership of the committee but in the end, he proposed RPP’s Deepak Bahadur Singh as its head.
“We reached a deal with the RPP, whereby the party will support the ruling coalition in Koshi. I sacrificed my position in order to save the provincial government in Koshi,” Sapkota told the Post. “Though there is no written agreement, we have received a verbal commitment from the RPP leaders.”
If the ruling coalition of the Congress, Maoist Centre, Janata Samajbadi Party and CPN (Unified Socialist) gets the support of six RPP provincial assembly members, the Uddhav Thapa-led government can easily survive. But the parties are waiting for the final decision of the Supreme Court in the Koshi government case, which is sub judice.
Ruling party leaders claimed that they decided to give the House panel leadership to the RPP in a bid to bring the party on board the ruling coalition. But if the RPP leaders’ statements are any guide, they still seem reluctant to support the ruling coalition in Koshi.
RPP spokesman Mohan Shrestha said he was unaware of any such agreement with the ruling parties as his party deserved the leadership of at least one parliamentary committee based on its own strength. The party has 14 seats in the House of Representatives.
RPP senior vice chair Buddhiman Tamang, who reached an understanding with the Maoist Centre on the House committee leadership, however, denied having reached any concrete agreement with the party, but said his party deserves to lead the committee in its own right.
“As the issue of Koshi government formation is currently sub judice in the Supreme Court and our party chair is not in the country, we cannot make any deal now,” Tamang told the Post. “Neither can we make such a deal, nor can we disclose it [even if we did].”
However, the Maoist Centre leaders are hopeful that things could gradually change after the Supreme Court’s decision as RPP leaders have promised them support.
The leaders involved in the negotiations said that the RPP leaders had discussed the deal with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. After they got assurance from RPP chair Rajendra Lingden, who is currently in Dubai, Dahal had agreed to provide one of the two committee chairs to the fifth-largest party in the lower house.
As per the agreement among the parties, Congress got the leadership of three parliamentary committees, the main opposition party UML got two, and other parties—Maoist Centre, RPP, CPN (Unified Socialist) Janata Samajbadi Party, and Janamat Party—one each.
As per the agreement among the parties, Congress lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada has filed candidacy for the leadership of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee, Arzu Rana Deuba for Agriculture, Cooperatives and Natural Resources Committee and Santosh Chalise for the Finance Committee.
UML lawmaker Rishikesh Pokhrel filed his candidacy for the leadership of the Public Accounts Committee, which is generally set aside for the main opposition party, and Kiran Sah, an independent lawmaker who joined the UML earlier this year, has filed his candidacy for the Women and Social Affairs Committee.
The Maoist Centre’s Bimala Subedi filed candidacy for Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee and the RPP's Deepak Bahadur Singh for Infrastructure Development Committee.
Earlier, the ruling parties had forged a deal on the parliamentary committee leaderships with the UML bypassing the RPP, but Prime Minister Dahal later agreed to give his party’s share to the RPP to secure its support for the Koshi government.
Earlier, the RPP leaders have accused major parties of breaking from the tradition of allowing the parties represented in Parliament to lead parliamentary committees based on their strength, and they therefore had laid claim to the leadership of one committee.
CPN (Unified Socialist) lawmaker Bhanubhakta Jaisi filed his candidacy for the chair of the Health, Education and Information Technology Committee, Rajkishor Yadav of Janata Samajbadi Party for the International Relations and Tourism Committee and Abdul Khan of Janamat Party for Industry and Commerce, Labour and Consumer Welfare Committee.
The two joint committees that have members from both the lower and upper houses have been allocated to the Congress and the UML. The Congress will lead the Parliamentary Hearing Committee while the UML will lead the Committee for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of the Directive Principles, Policies and Obligations of the State.
The ruling coalition, however, hasn’t included the Rastriya Swatantra Party, the fourth largest in the lower house, in the power-sharing deal. The party, which has 21 seats in the lower house, has laid its claim to the Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Welfare Committee. Its lawmaker Ganesh Parajuli filed his candidacy for the committee’s leadership on Sunday.
Though nine of the 10 committees have a single candidate with no opponents, according to officials at the parliament secretariat, the results will be announced only on Monday.