Big parties differ over 'party whip' on CA members
KATHMANDU, May 11: While a large number of lawmakers who have grouped themselves under different ethnic, women as well as other caucuses in the Constituent Assembly (CA) have challenged to defy party directives if they feel the directives go against their respective communities the major political parties differ over whether CA members are bound to follow the party whips.
While the UCPN (Maoist), the largest party in the CA, has said the lawmakers are free to cast their votes on various provisions of the new constitution as per their conviction, leader from the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN UML have said lawmakers are obviously bound to abide by the instruction of their respective parties.
Maoist Chief Whip Dev Gurung said though the lawmakers must follow their respective parties’ whips when it is issued in connection with the business of parliament, the same lawmakers in their role as CA members are not compelled to follow party whips.
“Party whip is applicable only in legislature-parliament but not in CA. So all lawmakers are free to ast their votes as per their own independent conviction,” Gurung told Republica.
However, NC Chief Whip Laxman Ghimire and UML Chief Whip Bhim Achaya differ with Gurung. Both the leadersargued that a lawmaker elected from a particular party’s ticket must obey his/her party’s decision and instructions.
“How can a party member elected through votes cast for a particular party and election symbol can disassociate himself from the party’s decisions and instructions?” argued Ghimire.
Acharya echoed Ghimire. Any organized member of UML as per the party’s basic rules is bound to abide by each and every decision of the party. “So these issues fall under the broader political discipline and there should be no confusion at all,” he explained.
However, he was quick to add that leader from the parties will struggle till the end to avoid voting as it would invited intra-party divisions. He said the leaders are not for imposing whips on lawmakers as far as possible.
However, UML lawmakers Prithvi Subba Gurung, who also heads a cross-party caucus, said they are not obliged to abide by the party whips in the CA.
“Representation from ethnic communities in the CA was deemed necessary because party representatives alone are not enough,” Gurung told Republica adding that lawmakers must not be confined only to party rules.