PRAKASH SILWAL, BHISMA RAJ OJHA
KATHMANDU, Feb 27: Preparations have almost been complete for the first historic session of Nepal’s federal parliament formed following the completion of House of Representatives and Province Assembly elections in accordance with the Constitution of federal democratic republic Nepal.
The session is scheduled to take place at the International Convention Center, New Baneshwor at 4.00 pm on March 5 as summoned by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
Earlier on February 20, the President, on the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, had summoned the parliament session for March 5 in accordance with the Nepal’s Constitution Article 93 (10). Nepal’s federal parliament is bicameral and the upper house consists of 59 members (56 elected from the February 7 National Assembly election and three nominated by the President) while the lower house has 275 members (165 elected from first-past-the-post system and remaining 110 from proportional representation system).
The House of Representatives election was held in two phases–November 26 and December 7–last year. According to federal parliament secretariat’s general secretary Manohar Prasad Bhattarai, they are also preparing for a swearing-in ceremony of members of both houses and the first federal parliament.
A day before the first parliament session set for March 4, the senior- most members in terms of age of both houses shall take oath before the President at the Shital Niwas and they shall administer oath of office to remaining members of the respective houses same day.
A swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives members shall take place at 4.00 pm while the schedule for NA members has been fixed for 5.00 pm. Likewise, Yadav would carry out the duties of the Speaker until the election of Speaker while Bhatta would take charge of National Assembly Chairperson until the election for Chairperson.
Eighty-year-old Mahendra Ray Yadav of Rastriya Janata Party who had won the election from Sarlahi Constituency-2 is the senior most member in the lower house while 69-year-old Taradevi Bhatta of the Nepali Congress is the senior most member in the NA.
However, Dr Yubraj Khatiwada, Ram Narayan Bidari and Dr Bimala Poudel, nominated to the NA three seats by the Head-of-the-State, shall not attend the swearing-in ceremony, owing to the Supreme Court order. The SC on February 25, in response to a joint writ registered by three people recommended for the nomination in the NA by the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government, issued an interlocutory order in the name of government and Office of the President, among others to stay their swearing.
The President’s move to set aside the erstwhile government’s decision and endorsing the recommendations of new government has been challenged in the court.
Likewise, two members in the House of Representatives (Resham Chaudhary, accused in the Kailali carnage, and former Deputy Inspector General of Police Nawaraj Silwal charged with forgery) are eligible for taking oath as the Secretariat has received no information in writing in this regard from the authorities concerned, said Secretariat Spokesperson Dr Bharat Raj Gautam.
The members of federal parliament, willing to take oath of office and secrecy in their mother languages as per the constitutional provision, are informing the general secretary about the language they want to be sworn in.
Federal parliamentary member Anil Kumar Jha would take oath of office and secrecy in Hindi language while other members, Pradeep Yadav and Harinarayan Prasad Rauniyar, would take oath in Bhojpuri language.
Likewise, Mohammad Istiyak Rai would take in Awadhi language while Shanta Chaudhary and Ganga Chaudhary (Satgauwa) would take oath in Tharu language.
There is a legal provision that a parliamentary member who wants to take oath of office and secrecy in his/her mother language has to provide copy of its script after translating it into his/her mother language to the Federal Parliament Secretariat three days before the swearing-in programme.
Discussion with political parties regarding agenda on Wednesday
Spokesperson Dr Gautam said that consultation would be held among leaders of five political parties representing the Parliament at 2:00 pm on Wednesday for the preparation of the first meeting.
The Secretariat has prepared a draft of Interim Working Procedure as it has to be passed until the formulation of Work Operation Regulation.
PREPARATION OF SPEAKER AND DEPUTY-SPEAKER, CHAIRPERSON AND VICE-CHAIRPERSON ELECTIONS
The Constitution has the provision that election to Speaker and Deputy-Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the National Assembly should be held within 15 days after the first meeting of the Federal Parliament.
There is also a provision that Speaker and Deputy-Speaker as well as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson should be represented from different parties and different gender.
There is also a constitutional provision that the Prime Minister should garner vote of confidence at the House of Representatives within 30 days after being appointed to the post.
Spokesperson Gautam said that necessary preparation was underway for the same.
The Secretariat has received Rs 35 million for the construction and maintenance of seminar halls of both Houses and other logistic arrangements.