Amicable Initiative


Finally, political parties represented in the House of Representatives (HoR) Saturday agreed in principle to constitute a parliamentary committee to investigate the misappropriation of cooperatives funds that have taken place in different parts of the country. With the inter-party consensus, both Houses of the federal parliament started to run smoothly from Sunday. Main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has been disrupting the House proceedings for weeks, demanding that a parliamentary panel be formed to probe the alleged involvement of Minister for Home Rabi Lamichhane in alleged misappropriation of cooperatives funds. On Sunday, Home Minister Lamichhane spoke in the House meeting.  However, NC general secretary Gagan Thapa, organising a press meet later, objected to a series of allegations made against the main opposition. Then the Speaker postponed Sunday’s House meeting til 11 am Monday. 

Earlier a meeting of top leaders from NC, CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre and Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) decided that the probe body would investigate all cooperatives-related irregularities without citing the name of Lamichhane, also the RSP chair. The deal became possible after the NC reached an understanding to investigate Lamichhane-associated cooperatives. The meeting has formed a four-member taskforce that includes Jiwan Pariyar of NC, Mahesh Bartaula of UML and Shishir Khanal of RSP. Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Padam Giri will coordinate the committee that will finalise its terms of reference (ToR) Sunday. The main opposition had taken aggressive posture against the Home Minister ever since the formation of the present coalition, hampering the House business. It had first demanded Lamichhane’s resignation and constantly barred him from putting forth his views in the House meeting. Later, it began to demand the formation of parliamentary probe panel to look into the misuse of cooperatives funds by him instead of his resignation. 

On Friday, there was a chaotic scene in the meeting hall of the Lower House. The lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties clashed and traded terse remarks against each other when the Speaker allowed Lamichhane to speak from the rostrum. The political parties were under pressure to resume the House meeting that must approve the government’s policy and programmes after conducting deliberations on it. Similarly, there is the constitutional obligation for the government to unveil the new fiscal year budget on May 28. Moreover, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is scheduled to secure the vote of confidence on Monday (May 20) after Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) pulled out its support to the coalition government. Smooth functioning of the parliament is necessary to accomplish these tasks. A prolonged deadlock in the parliament would give wrong message to the people. Despite their differences and confrontational attitude, the political parties have sensed the gravity of the situation and demonstrated understanding to solve the impasse. 

In yet another positive development, a meeting of five opposition parties held Sunday morning decided to let Home Minister Lamichhane deliver speech in the HoR’s meeting and move ahead by taking the evolving situation into account. The opposition group’s flexible approach deserves appreciation. In democracy, candid dialogues among the political actors enable to iron out their differences no matter how big and tricky they are. Mutual talks, understanding and consensus are essential parts of democratic polity that broadens its scope when the dissenting voices are well-adjusted into the existing realities of the society. Parliament is the supreme body of elected representatives. It is irrational to hold it hostage to rigid stances of the parties. As mentioned earlier, the parliament has a lot of important tasks to be executed in this budget session and continuous disruptions prevent it from fulfilling its responsibility. 

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