Disruptions, protests and walk-outs by the Opposition during legislative proceedings are quite common anywhere in the world. But what the Nepal Parliament has been witnessing in the past few weeks can set a dangerous precedent for future lawmakers.
Nepal’s main opposition, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist has been stalling the House for close to two weeks now. It said the impeachment motion moved by the ruling Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre against Chief Justice Sushila Karki was a direct assault on the independence of Judiciary, and will continue obstructing the House unless it was withdrawn. UML taking a pro-independent judiciary stance is understandable as most judges presently in the Supreme Court and lower courts are party sympathisers or have links to it.
The whole idea behind stalling the House was not to let members, particularly the signatories to the motion, to have their say on the issue. The ‘list’ of grievances or justification of the obstruction kept piling each subsequent day. Amidst the ruckus, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned in the tenth month of him assuming office, in deference to an earlier understanding that he would support Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as his successor.
The UML, initially, opposed the very idea of the customary Programmes and Policies being unveiled by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in the Parliament when there was only a caretaker government. But they allowed her to address the House for about forty minutes, perhaps for the simple reason that she belonged to the UML before she became the President.
As Nepal’s politics over the past one decade has been about ‘deals’ clinched behind the scenes among the top leaders with conflicting interests, what followed on Saturday was no exception. UML did a U-turn and allowed the motion of thanks to be tabled and voted up on. The Nepali Congress and the Maoists are, however, not likely to withdraw the impeachment motion right away as announced by the UML. They will be ‘observing the chief justice, who both parties think is hostile towards them and Pro-UML, during the next one week’ when some crucial cases, most importantly the one related to the appointment of the Police Chief, come up for final hearing. But clearly, the parties, Parliament and Judiciary have proved that they are in the business of ‘give and take’ .