Nepali Congress leader Bal Krishna Khand is considered as one of the confidants of party president and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. Khand, who is a former defense minister, spoke to Republica's Ashok Dahal on Wednesday morning about his party's position on National Assembly formation, government leadership handover and the party's recent electoral performance. Excerpt:
What is your party's stance on the row over National Assembly formation?
Election of the upper house is mandatory because Article 83 of the constitution has provisioned a federal parliament comprising the National Assembly and House of Representatives. Article 84 (8) of the constitution has made it mandatory for all political parties represented in parliament to send at least one third women. To ensure the representation of women in parliament, we should first sort out gender-wise representation from each political party under the first-past-the-post election category. So, proportional representation (PR) seats can be allocated to the parties only after identifying the number of women elected to the National Assembly. According to the constitution, after the election of the House of Representatives and National Assembly, the seats under the PR category can be allocated to the parties so as to ensure at least one third representation of women in parliament.
How does your party see the delay by the president in authenticating the National Assembly bill?
Parliament is responsible for making the law. But the last parliament's term ended before it could endorse the bill. And in the absence of parliament, the government forwarded the bill in the form of ordiance to the president two months ago.
What would be your party's reaction of the president returned the ordinance to the government?
It is the duty of the president to authenticate the bill because the constitution has clearly outlined the duties and responsibilities of both the president and the government. She should follow the constitution and endorse the ordinance.
NC is being accused of posing obstacle to the formation of a new government. What's your view on this?
Our party and the prime minister will pave the way for forming a new government in line with the constitution. But the process of forming a new government cannot be started without the parliament taking full shape and the parliament cannot get full shape until the upper house is formed.
How does your party evaluate the recent election results?
Now the party needs to be re-energized as per the wishes of the people and the younger generation. We will soon hold a central working committee meeting of the party soon and the meeting will fix the date for the Mahasamiti (conclave) meeting to discuss reforms.
How do you respond to the ongoing criticism of the NC leadership over the poor election results?
We have taken the criticisms seriously. But the PR votes won by our party show that our voter base has not shrunk. Our candidates lost the elections because the second and third largest parties -- in the 2013 election -- forged an electoral alliance. Our party took the initiative for the peace process, our former party president Girija Prasad Koirala held dialogue with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and brought the Maoists to the mainstream politics. Our party played a leadership role in the constitution-making process. Despite our contributions to the nation, we failed to win the elections this time. This means the party needs to undergo drastic reforms.
Some leaders have voiced for leadership handover in the party, is that possible?
There is a certain process for leadership handover. The issue should first be discussed in the party central working committee and the Mahasamiti. A general assembly is a must for leadership handover. But I don't think leadership handover is the issue now. We need to revamp the party organization in the changed situation and all leaders and cadres should support this process.