Constitutional Council Appointment

Vice President’s position clear on Prachanda-Madhav side

KATHMANDU: Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun was absent from the swearing-in ceremony of 38 office bearers of various bodies, which took place in the presence of the President. It is a rare event that the Vice President has boycotted any official function of the state. This is seen as his dissatisfaction with the appointment made by the Constitutional Council.

Pun did not formally or informally inform the government or the President’s office about his absence. The Vice President’s Office has not yet given any explanation in this regard. Therefore, this incident is likely to generate tension in the relationship between the government and the Vice President in the upcoming days.

The Vice President was elected from the quota of the Maoist center. He was formerly known as a military person, rather than a politician. He was the Commander of the Maoist People’s Army during the People’s War and was not able to create a good political space after the Maoists entered the peace process. After losing from Kathmandu Ward No. 4 in the second Constitution Assembly election, his politics were in further trouble.

Pun had expressed interest in the split between the then UML and the UCPN (M) after the Vice President fell in the UCPN (M) quota. Not only showing his desire, he had made strong bargains in the party. In the end, Pun, who lost the election, was nominated by the Maoists for the second-ranked post in the country.

Pun, who has a military background, like Commander of the People’s Liberation Army, is satisfied with the ceremonial post of Vice-President. He even updated himself according to the demands of the same post. He immediately renounced his party membership and stayed away from any political disputes in the meantime. Instead, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has been accused of maintaining loyalty to her old party and faction, but the Vice President has not been accused of doing so. Even though the constitution did not give him any role, it was easy for him to stay away from disputes.

After the unofficial split in the ruling party, the CPN, the Vice President has shown his political support for one side. His stand is clearly seen to be the Prachanda-Madhav side. After the unofficial split in the ruling party, the CPN, the Vice President has shown his political support. Breaking the belief that the President and Vice-president should be above party politics, he is presenting his loyalty to a faction of the divided party. A few days ago, Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai met Pun at the Vice President’s Office. On the basis of the same meeting, the government side has interpreted today’s absence.

A Baluwatar source said, “It is clear that he boycotted today’s program under Khumaltar’s direction. He had never shown such partiality before. I don’t know why he has lost his mind. The Vice President has nothing to do but attend such gatherings. If you don’t attend this, the question arises as to why the state should provide services and facilities.”

The Vice President was in his regular role until Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli expanded the cabinet when the CPN controversy was at its height after the dissolution of parliament. He attended the swearing-in ceremony of the ministers. Even Speaker Agni Sapkota was present at the swearing-in of the ministers. Developments since then have forced both of them to show loyalty to their parent party. 

The Speaker was expected to be absent from today’s program. He had already expressed his dissatisfaction by returning the letter of appointment made by the Constitutional Council to the government. Constitution Expert Bhimarjun Acharya said that it could be understood that Pun was dissatisfied with the process of appointment of the Vice President and the Speaker in the Constitutional Council. He told Nepal Press, “The bigger issue than their absence is whether the appointment method and process made by the Constitutional Council is suitable or not.”

The government is also surprised by the absence of the Vice President. He did not pick up the phone when they repeatedly tried to contact Manoj Gharti Magar, Pun’s Press Advisor, to understand the response of the Vice President’s Office. 

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