Ruling party representatives from Valley advise prime minister to withdraw Guthi BillOli tells party members he would take a necessary decision through the Cabinet
Representatives of the ruling Nepal Communist Party elected from Kathmandu Valley have urged Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to reconsider the Guthi Bill, which has drawn massive criticism from the Newar community of Kathmandu.
At a meeting with Oli on Monday afternoon, around 300 representatives said the government must suspend—or withdraw—the bill, against which Kathmandu locals are preparing a massive protest on Wednesday.
“Almost all who spoke at today’s meeting demanded that the government withdraw the bill,” said Jeevan Ram Shrestha, a member of the federal parliament.
Amid growing criticism of the Guthi Bill, Oli, upon his return from a week-long Europe tour, told the media on Sunday that “if there are any concerns over the bill, the government would address them.”
Oli called a meeting on Monday to hear from the representatives of his party.
“The elected representatives told the prime minister that the government would not be able to control the situation, as a massive protest is being planned, if it does not withdraw the bill,” Rambir Manandhar, a Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker, told the Post. “He [Oli] told the meeting that he would take a necessary decision through the Cabinet,” said Manandhar, who attended Monday’s meeting.
The Oli administration, which has over the months introduced various bills that have landed in controversy, has hit a raw nerve with the Guthi Bill because Guthi trustees say its provisions are aimed at destroying the centuries-old culture, tradition and customs.
The Bill, which is currently with the Upper House, has some provisions that seek to nationalise both private and public guthis, regulate all religious sites, and replace the Guthi Sansthan with a powerful authority.
Kathmandu locals—those from the Newar community—have been saying that such provisions will deal a blow to the indigenous Newar culture.
According to trustees, the bill violates the constitutional rights of citizens as Article 26 (2) of the constitution says that every religious denomination shall have the right to operate and protect its religious sites and religious guthi.
Also, Sections 23 and 24 of the Guthi Bill have provisions that will allow the proposed authority to take over all rights and responsibilities of the guthi, including all trustee rights. Section 4 (6) of the bill proposes nationalising and regulating all private guthis, which trustees say is insensitive and in utter disregard for the different kinds of guthis and their functions in the Newar society.
Earlier on Monday, senior party leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal also held talks with members of the House of Representatives from the ruling party.
Prior to his meeting with the party’s representatives including lawmakers, Oli had held separate discussions with Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal, who had tabled the Guthi Bill at the National Assembly.
When approached for comments, Aryal said the prime minister has started consultations with the stakeholders.
“Today, the prime minister held discussions with the party leaders and lawmakers. He will also consult stakeholders, trustees and experts before taking an appropriate decision,” Aryal, who was also present at the Baluwatar meeting, told the Post. “The government is ready to address the concerns raised by the people.”