28 Oct - 3 Nov 2016 #831

Package deal

Diwakar Chettri

A week after the 157 UML-Maoist MPs filed an impeachment motion against the CIAA Chief Lokman Singh Karki, the NC is still dilly-dallying. The motion will not go through without its vote, so the NC is bargaining hard to name Karki’s successor. There has also been intense behind-the-scenes diplomatic lobbying to seek a ‘package deal’ on impeachment that will include an agreement on contentious amendments to the constitution.

Parliament has gone into recess ostensibly for Tihar and Chhath festivals and also because of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s three-day Nepal visit that will begin in Janakpur on 2 November. The choice of Janakpur is significant because of Nepal’s refusal to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the holy town last year during the SAARC summit. Bilateral relations that soured after that worsened during the five-month Indian blockade.

Some NC leaders seem to be hoping that Karki will resign so that the impeachment will not come to a vote. There are still quite a few Congress stalwarts who are beholden to the dreaded ex-Chief of the CIAA. The NC is also wary of a public opinion that is building up against Karki for terrorising individuals and institutions for the past three years and running a parallel government. New Delhi, which is seen by many here as being behind Karki’s appointment in 2013, now regards Karki as a lost cause.

The NC’s Sher Bahadur Deuba, the UML’s K P Oli and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal told editors in Baluwatar on Wednesday that the three have indeed agreed on a ‘package deal’. If that is true, the NC will join the UML-Maoist to kick out Karki in return for the UML to agree to amend the Constitution.

It was Oli and Dahal who secretly and hurriedly spearheaded a signature campaign to impeach Karki after learning that the CIAA was preparing to file cases against top politicians. All three parties now have too much at stake, so the impeachment move will go ahead and this new unity between the three parties may also result in ending the constitution deadlock.

“Impeachment is a distinctive issue not related to the Constitution amendment at all,” UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai told Nepali Times, adding, “but we can still sign a package deal to see the impeachment through.”

Bhattarai warned that federal boundaries cannot be readjusted, and the NC and the Maoists have to justify why other constitutional provisions need to be amended. “We cannot agree to everything that the NC proposes in return for its support for the impeachment process. If the Congress backs out now, it will pay a heavy price.”

Om Astha Rai

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