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After month-long crisis, the NCP starts to order itself

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has resolved a long-running leadership dispute over the party’s main departments, bringing it party closer to completing the much-delayed unification process that began last year with the merger of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (Maoist). 

A meeting of NCP secretariat members on Friday appointed chiefs for its 33 central departments. Former home minister Bamdev Gautam is party’s Organization Department chief and Defense Minister Ishwor Pokharel will oversee the School Department. The School Department, the unit responsible for promoting party ideology, was at the heart of the factional power struggles that have dominated the party since it was formed in May last year. 

Photo credit: Chandrakala Chettri/ RSS

Party sources said the Maoist faction gave up its claim after Prime Minister KP Oli made a verbal commitment to hand over control of the party to co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ in the next few months. Politics since 2006 has been marked by a rash of verbal commitments and gentlemen’s agreements more often breached than not, leading to crises and governance paralysis.

Former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhal Nath Khanal will head the party’s International Department and Policy Research Academy respectively. Other key appointments include former finance minister Surendra Pandey to the Finance Department, former speaker Subash Nembang to the Parliamentary Party Department, and Mani Thapa to the Literature, Art and Culture Department.

The party meeting on 11 August also, in principle, agreed to appoint Gautam as the party’s deputy chairman; the formal announcement is to be made in the coming. Oil and Dahal are reportedly mulling reshuffling the seniority order of the party’s central leadership.  

Janajati organizations protest quota cut
Photo credit: THT

Protests by ethnic organizations affiliated with the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) against the Public Service Commission’s recent move to reduce quotas reserved under proportional representation took an ugly turn on 16 August, when at least a half dozen protesters including NEFIN chairman Jagat Baram were injured after police used force to stop the rally from entering the restricted zone near Singha Durbar. More than a dozen protesters have been taken into custody. On Tuesday, protestors gathered in front of the prime minister’s residence. In its recent recruitment for 9,161 vacancies for 515 local bodies, the Public Service Commission allocated only 2,262 seats for reserved categories — barely 25 per cent, against the 45 per cent mandated by the constitution and Civil Service Act. The protest comes at a time when parliament is discussing a new Federal Civil Servant bill that seeks to bar candidates from benefiting from reservation quota more than once in their career. Janajati organizations have planned more protests against the decision.

NC agrees on consensus to restructure party, giving Deuba an edge 
Photo credit: Roshan Sapkota/ RSS

The Nepali Congress must restructure itself to work more effectively in the new federal structure, and leaders have decided to attempt this via consensus, rather than forming party committees from ward to the central level through direct election. The party’s central working committee on 11 August unanimously endorsed an interim guideline allowing the party to appoint office-bearers at the local and provincial level through consensus. The move is expected to give party president Sher Bahadur Deuba an edge over rivals who are hoping to stop him from having a second term in office at the party’s 14th general convention planned for 2021.

MP Yadav resigns, possibly to make way for CK Raut
Photo credit: Paras KC

Federal Socialist Party (FSP) MP Surya Narayan Yadav has resigned from his post citing health reasons. Yadav, who was elected to the House of Representatives from Saptari-1, submitted his resignation to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara on 12 August. Some FSP leaders suspect that Yadav might have resigned to pave the way for former separatist CK Raut, leader of the new Janamat Party Nepal, to enter parliament in by-elections for central, provincial and local assemblies on scheduled for November 30. Fifty other seats will be contested.

Opposition says Home Minister must retract his dismissive Nirmala comment, suggests a cover-up 

Nepali Congress lawmaker Devendraraj Kandel has demanded Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa take back his controversial statement on the Nirmala Panta rape case. Panta was raped and murdered, and her body found near her her home on July 27 last year. Last month, Minister Thapa said: “Nirmala Panta’s rape and murder was unquestionably a heinous crime, but such crimes are nothing new in themselves. They have happened in the past, they are happening now, and will happen for some time in the future.”

Photo credit: Chandrakala Chettri/ RSS

Addressing parliament on 13 August, Kandel said Thapa’s statement called into question the government’s commitment to finding the culprit and preventing similar crimes. Kandel further claimed that an elected representative in Singh Durbar was behind Panta’s rape and murder, but did not elaborate. Ruling NCP lawmakers demanded Kandel’s statement be removed from the record.

Dr. Govinda KC threatens 16th hunger strike
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Anti-corruption campaigner Dr. Govinda KC has threatened to go on a 16th hunger strike if the government is not fair and transparent in the hiring of new university officials. Dr KC urged the government to implement a previous agreement with him to end the long-running politicization of hiring processes at universities and academies, which, he argues, is responsible for irregularities and widespread corruption in the Tribhuvan University Service Commission. In his statement on 13 August, KC also urged the government to deliver on its past commitments to reform medical education and the health sector.