22-28 July 2016 #818

A culture of silence

‘I am a Member of Parliament, and my silence protects the greedy.’
Om Astha Rai

Gopen Rai

Hundreds of young protesters marched along rain-soaked streets outside Parliament in Baneswor on Thursday, their mouths gagged with black face masks. They carried signs such as: ‘I am a Member of Parliament, and my silence protects the greedy.’

Inside Parliament, MPs were actually silent, lazily waiting for the top leaders of the Big Three parties to decide whether to bring up in the House a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister KP Oli, or the three bills required to implement the new budget. The top leaders failed to reach an agreement, and the House was adjourned until Friday.

Regime change seemed inevitable after the CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, backed by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, registered a no-confidence motion against the Oli government last week. But Oli is clinging on to power, trying to foil the Dahal-Deuba alliance. However, with only the RPP-N and other fringe parties by his side, and Madhesi parties on Dahal’s side, Oli is unlikely to be able to save his government.

Oli seems determined to prevent Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar from bringing the no-confidence motion up for discussion, at least until the three budget bills are passed. Dahal aims to revive his party by winning more seats in the upcoming elections, and wants Oli out before the budget bills are passed.

NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel on Thursday proposed a package deal: the NC-Maoists will allow the budget bills, and even withdraw the no-confidence motion, but Oli will have to pave the way for an all-party government by resigning. Oli is positive, but Dahal and Deuba are not.

Meanwhile, across town Govinda KC continues his hunger strike for reforms in the lucrative medical education sector. But the silence is being broken — NC MP Gagan Thapa on Thursday registered a motion of urgent public importance in Parliament to hear KC’s demands.

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