The House of Representatives (HoR) is currently in stalemate on the issue related to the election of a new Speaker. In this regard, Khabarhub talked with the Deputy Speaker Dr. Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, who is stake claiming for the post, says she is eligible, qualified and experienced for the post in all ways, about her possibility of getting nominated and the basis for her claim as the naturally eligible candidate for the post.
Here are the excerpts of the interview:
The meeting of the HoR was postponed on Sunday as well citing some ‘uncertain’ circumstances. Why was that actually?
The uncertain circumstances, as you said, are as per the parliamentary practices we have been following for long. We had called for the session but all the political parties urged us to postpone the meeting until the next date. We have to listen to the political parties’ requests as well. So, we postponed it till January 20.
Does the term ‘parties’ refer to a single political party or all political parties in Parliament?
I am talking about all political parties. Nepal Communist Party (NCP), in fact, proposed for postponement. We consulted with the Nepali Congress, main opposition, and then the decision was taken.
However, NC, the main opposition party has labelled such postponement ‘irresponsible’, and has created confusion.
Indeed, I, too, read it in the media. As an opposition party, they have the right to say so. That is that their point of view. However, prior to the postponement, we had consulted with the NC chief whip. Although we had suggested postponing till the 19th, NC chief whip advised 20th citing their party program scheduled for that day.
The trend of postponing the parliamentary sessions by issuing a notice is becoming more frequent of late. How can people be assured that it will not be postponed again on January 20th?
It’s up to the political parties. They know it better. So far as the next session is concerned, it will not put-off.
But previously you had said that Sunday’s meeting wouldn’t be postponed. Isn’t it?
Yes, I had said so. But I had to issue the notice of postponement at the political parties’ request. It was not my decision.
The parties might again ask you for deferral on that day as well. How do you plan to face them?
Yes, it cannot be negated. But there is a fat chance for the successful resumption of the session.
The Nepal Communist Party Secretariat has directed you to step down. Are you informed about it?
Yes, I have heard about it. I have also come to know that they have dispatched a letter in my name. But, I am yet to receive it.
What is your opinion about the decision of the party Secretariat?
I am the second in the leadership in the House of Representative. And I don’t think the party can issue an order asking me to vacate the position. Our constitution does not allow it.
Previously, they had requested me when I was not at all prepared for it. I had told them that I was not interested in the post of Deputy Speaker.
Later, at their earnest request citing that the party would be in trouble, I accepted to quit. So, perhaps on that ground, the party might have instructed me to step down. But, if it is an instruction or direction, a party as such cannot issue an order to the head of a constitutional organ. Not to forget that I am heading the House of Representatives now.
However, notwithstanding your position, the party has already issued the directives. Don’t you think that you need to abide by it?
If it’s an order or a directive, I would not accept it. I have very much made it clear that the head of an institution like a parliament cannot be dictated by a political party. Yes, they may make a request. I have not received the letter yet. I, therefore, do not know about the content of the letter.
Now, what is the way out?
I have very clearly told them (party chairmen) about it. I have also asked them to find a quick way out. In fact, they failed to do the groundwork. They convened the meeting of the party Secretariat on 11th of January upon my request to break the deadlock.
Interestingly, I came to know through the media that the meeting sought my resignation. At least the Secretariat came with a decision. Had I not poked for it, the initiation could be much later. I have told them that it sends a bad impression. People are tired of the deadlock. They want to see it resolved. We have called a parliament meeting on 20th, and I am quite hopeful of a positive outcome.
Among the two chairs of the ruling party, we hear you stand close to the Prime Minister. What does he say in the meeting?
That is very true. As the head of the legislature, I need to be in regular contact with the head of the executive body. My job is to coordinate between the legislature and the executive. I have met with the Prime Minister three times in this context. I have to seek a way out by consulting with the head of the government.
What do they say during the meeting?
They have reiterated of resolving the stalemate at the earliest as they are regularly in touch on the issue.
What do they say about your claim and eligibility for the post?
They are well aware of my views or claims. The party leadership has a keen sense of hearing. I had talked about my eligibility and the claim the day I accepted the resignation of the then Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara. And, I stick to my claim.
But the party can go to any extent, or could opt for an alternative for evacuation, or a constitutional means such as impeachment.
I have apprised both chairs of the party on the issue. No one can bar the constitutional provision. I have candidly told them to use Clause 6 of Article 91 of the Constitution of Nepal. Our constitution hails the provisions for evacuation of the post of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
Article 91, Clause 6 says the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall become vacant a) If he or she ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives, provided that, in the event of dissolution of the house of Representatives, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives hold their respective offices shall continue in office until the previous day of the filing of nominations for another election to the House of Representatives,
b) If he or she tenders resignation in writing,
c) If a resolution is passed by a majority of two-thirds of the total number of the then members of the House of Representatives that his or her conduct is not compatible with his or her office.
I have asked them to take any action, if required. There was the debate mentioning only the FPTP members are eligible for the Speaker.
But the constitutional provision has kept it open, both for the First Past the Post type of MPs and the ones elected on a proportional basis. I have told the chairpersons each type of MP can claim it. Now the ball is on their court!