Controversial bills draw criticism from ruling party lawmakers

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jun 12, 2019-

Lawmakers of the ruling Nepal Communist Party have opposed the Guthi Bill which is under consideration in the federal parliament.

NCP standing committee member and former minister, Pampha Bhusal, criticised the bill on Monday’s meeting of Parliament—a day after the opposition lawmakers obstructed the House proceedings to protest against the bill and use of force by the state on a peaceful rally organised to protest the proposed legislation.

The Guthi Bill seeks to transfer guthi land to private ownership and convert private guthis into public ones. Guthis are centuries-old Newar social organisations that collect funds, hold cultural programmes and maintain traditions.

Monday’s Parliament meeting was supposed to discuss the budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 presented by the government on May 29. But the meeting was once again obstructed by the opposition lawmakers.

NCP lawmaker Agni Sapkota told reporters that the meeting could not continue owing to the protest over the Guthi Bill.

The controversial bill must be terminated, he said. The ruling party lawmaker also suggested the government to secure political consensus before pushing any legislation. Lawmakers opposing the Guthi Bill, both from the opposition and the ruling benches, have said that the bill was

introduced in Parliament without any discussion.

This, however, is not the first time that the KP Oli administration has pushed a controversial legislation without holding discussions.

Many NCP leaders and lawmakers have started to resent the leadership of Oli, both as the party chair and the prime minister, in recent times.

They have, time and again, raised their voices against Oli’s wilful and arbitrary attitude.

The NCP parliamentary party meetings have largely been a one-way communication process in which the party leaders speak and lawmakers listen.

After they were not allowed to put their views in the latest parliamentary party meeting held on the first week of May, the NCP lawmakers had raised their objection.

“When there is no discussion, the party and the government cannot take the credit of the achievements,” said Anjana Bishankhe, an NCP lawmaker. “There is no one to defend the government’s move and counter those going against them.”

Asked why there have been controversies surrounding the bills presented in Parliament, Bishankhe blamed the “feudal character” of the party leadership.

“Internal democracy will remain a pipe dream unless the party leadership changes its ways,” she added.

A growing number of NCP leaders and lawmakers are disaffected with the party leadership over the bills tabled in Parliament. They say these actions will haunt the party come the next election season. “By now, everyone in the party and in the government have learned that Oli does what he wishes because he feels that he has the position and the authority and knows everything,” said NCP leader Ghanashyam Bhusal.

Before the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) merged to form the NCP last year, both parties used to discuss the contents of new bills with their lawmakers before tabling them in Parliament. The NCP has dispensed with the practice after coming to power.

“A large section of society is against the bills registered by the government which is unfortunate,” said NCP lawmaker Rekha Sharma.

Several political analysts have likened the Oli government to an authoritarian regime.

Political analyst Hari Roka said the parliamentary parties have leader, deputy leader, and chief whip and whip to inform lawmakers about the upcoming bills, but they are not doing their jobs properly.

“Even the opposition parties are the same. They raise their concerns in Parliament only after there is a public protest. This clearly suggests a failure of the system,” he said.

Civil society leaders have taken the controversial bills as a calculated move to control civil liberties through legal means.

“We must stand against any move that is aimed at curtailing civil liberties through restrictive laws,” said Charan Prasain, a civil society leader.

Published: 12-06-2019 07:29

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