Oppn obstructs House over new local units
KATHMANDU, May 24: The government decision to increase 22 local units in various tarai districts has drawn serious controversy, prompting the main opposition CPN-UML to obstruct parliament, which also delayed Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's plan to step down on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Dahal was all set to address the House meeting and announce his resignation from the same House rostrum Tuesday. However he couldn't address the parliament as the CPN-UML decided to obstruct the meeting to protest against the government's decision to increase the local units in certain tarai districts.
The prime minister at the cabinet meeting in the afternoon briefed all the ministers about his plan to announce his resignation in parliament within a few hours.
"The practice among political parties of reaching a gentleman's understanding and then ignoring it has become established. I wanted to end this practice," Minister Kumar Khadka quoted the prime minister as saying. "Then, Deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and Minister Jitendra Dev appreciated the prime minister for his successful leadership."
Dahal and all his cabinet members took a group photo after the cabinet meeting. Usually, such photo sessions are arranged after the last cabinet meeting by any prime minister.
With the main opposition CPN-UML sticking to its stance of protesting against the government decision to increase the number of local units, Speaker Onsari Gharti decided to postpone the House meeting till Wednesday 11 am.
UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli at a three-party meeting held at the parliament building at Baneshwar didn't budge from his party's stance to protest against the decision.
Tuesday's House meeting, which was originally scheduled for 11 am was postponed for 3 pm at first and till 5 pm later in a bid to forge consensus with the opposition.
Several rounds of meeting between the ruling Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center) and the opposition UML on Tuesday morning and afternoon yielded no result after UML firmly stood against allowing the House meeting unless the government withdrawing its decision.
The main opposition was irked by the decision of the government to increase the number of the local units just ahead of the June 14 local polls. It termed the decision as blatant violation of the spirit of the constitution and as well the election code of conduct.
"The House obstruction is the result of the government's own decision. The government breached the agreement with us for not changing the numbers of local units without consulting at the concerned local area at first. We are ready to lift the obstruction if the government corrects its mistake," UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal told media after the three-party meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
He stated that the government had agreed not to make any changes to the local units without the opposition's consent when UML had last month obstructed the House meeting against the government's issuance of circular from Local Development Ministry to increase local units in the tarai. During that time, the government had withdrawn its circular following UML's House obstruction.
UML's obstruction is also likely to affect the schedule of unveiling government's policy and program in parliament on Thursday. If both the sides failed to find a solution, the schedule of budget presentation for May 29 is likely to be disturbed.
However, ruling parties have criticized the main opposition for not allowing the prime minister to announce his resignation in the House.
"If all the political parties come on board the election owning the new constitution we don't see any reason for UML to obstruct the House meeting," said Foreign Affairs Minister Prakash Saran Mahat.
"It will be in favor of the nation and the people and will be success of all including the opposition party as well, as it will bring all forces into the process of implementing the new constitution," he said.
According to the prime minister's personal secretary Prakash Dahal, the prime minister has postponed his plan for resignation till Wednesday, as he expects that UML will end the House obstruction and allow him to put forth his views in parliament. Leaders close to Dahal said that he is carrying his resignation letter for submission to President Bidya Bhandari after announcing his resignation in parliament.