KATHMANDU, July 16: Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on Monday deferred the House meeting for over a week, drawing criticism from the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) as well as the ruling party lawmakers representing the areas affected by floods and landslides.
The speaker is said to have deferred the House meeting allegedly under pressure from the government.
Although the two opposition parties were ready to lift their week-long obstruction in parliament to discuss floods and landslides rescue and relief efforts, the speaker deferred the House meeting for July 24 through a notice.
NC and another opposition party Rastriya Janta Party Nepal (RJPN) had registered a motion to suspend the regular House business to discuss the urgent issue of floods and landslides that claimed at least 67 lives since Thursday.
“We had registered a proposal to express our solidarity with the victims and decided to suspend our obstruction in the House,” NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said while emerging from the House. “We were surprised after the government refused to discuss such a serious issue.”
NC leaders said that although the speaker was initially ready to hold deliberations on the issue, he later backtracked ‘under pressure from the government’.
The irked leaders said that Minister for Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal piled pressure on the speaker to defer the House meeting apparently to avoid criticism over the government’s delay in rescue and relief as well as its failure to take precautionary measures.
“The speaker was ready to hold deliberations, but he bowed to the government pressure. This is a wrongful act of the KP Oli-led government,” Deuba added.
Two opposition parties had obstructed two consecutive House sittings recently demanding parliamentary probe into two ‘extra judicial killings’ involving a protester and a cadre of the outlawed Netra Bikram Chand-led party. But the opposition forces had decided to allow the House to discuss the ongoing disaster stating that the role of parliament could be crucial for effective post-disaster management, said NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand.
Speaker Mahara has stated that the meeting was deferred because lawmakers are needed to visit their constituencies for necessary help in rescue and relief works and express solidarity with the victims, but even the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers have expressed discontent over the deferral.
“The House should have discussed the issue and set its priorities in order to know about the works done so far and to effectively expedite the rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of the disaster. If the House meeting had to be deferred it could have done after the deliberations,” said Ganesh Pahadi of NCP, who represents Sindhuli district.
“I don’t think this decision is good from the perspective of making our parliament more effective.”
NCP lawmakers Pahadi, Suresh Rai, Yagya Raj Sunuwar, Bishal Bhattarai, Kalyani Khadka, Nawaraj Silawal, Rekha Jha and LP Sawa vented their ire against the speaker and the main opposition for taking the parliament in hostage in such crucial time.
“We have serious objections toward the decision of the speaker. The House should not be made a hostage. We demand early meeting of the House,” said an NCP lawmaker from Khotang.