Interesting goings-on could be witnessed inside the Constituent Assembly (CA) of Nepal over the past few days, thingsunique and unexpected.
The sovereign body of the country has not only been stalled for the first time in its history, but opposition lawmakers brawled and vandalized the chairs, tables and microphones during meeting hours. Opposition lawmakers engaged in scuffles with the marshals and even held the chief whip of a ruling party captive for a while, releasing him only after a ruling from the chairman.
Jan 23: Opposition lawmakers took Nepali Congress chief whip Chinkaji Shrestha under their control while he was approaching the rostrum to table a proposal on forming a questionnaire committee amidst objections from the opposition. Agni Sapkota of UCPN (Maoist) and Raj Kumar Rai of Khumban Rastriya Mukti Morcha rushed forth from the opposition seats and captured Shrestha in the well area before he could reach the rostrum. CA Chairman Subas Nembang had to issue a ruling to the agitating lawmakers to release Shrestha.
Jan 22: Twelve packets of chili powder were discovered inside the meeting hall during security checks early in the morning. Lawmakers had to submit to strict security checks to get into the meeting hall.
Opposition lawmakers chanted slogans inside the CA hall for five hours in total, two hours at first and three hours after the meeting resumed in the evening following a few hours of truce. A few of the lawmakers resumed the destruction, breaking a table at the row occupied by the ruling parties and scuffling with marshals.
Jan 21: The CA meeting concluded after endorsing a motion to pay tributes to a deceased former CA member. The CA secretariat formed a five-member probe committee to investigate the vandalism a day earlier.
Jan 20: Opposition lawmakers walked out of the assembly when the CA chair adjourned the meeting amid obstructions by them. They kept sloganeering even as they left and addressed a gathering of party cadres outside.
Jan 19: Opposition lawmakers scuffled and broke chairs, tables, microphones and cameras during a midnight meeting when the CA chair asked the NC chief whip to table a proposal with two-third majority backing fiom ruling party lawmakers. The UCPN (Maoist)-led 19-party opposition alliance had decided to retaliate against the proposal as they were opposed to it.
Ruling parties have been trying to table the proposal no matter how, amidst obstruction from the opposition side.
They argue that the CA would be able to deliver a new statute at the earliest only after going through the procedure that has already commenced. On the other hand, opposition parties accuse the ruling side of scrapping past agreements and claim that the constitution could not be promulgated without a consensus process. Though the self-imposed deadline for the new constitution ended on Thursday, the heated tension inside the CA doesn’t seem likely to end any time soon