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Nepal’s new parliament is professionally diverse. What impacts will it have?

File: Nepal's parliament building
File: Nepal’s parliament building

The recent parliamentary elections’ results have already given a clear picture of what the new parliament will look like. One of the most striking features will be that it will have representatives from different walks of life with professional expertise in various fields. For example, this time, the parliament includes Toshima Karki, a doctor; CK Raut, a scientist; Binod Chaudhary, an industrialist and Rabi Lamichhhane, a media personality. These are just to name a few.

The representation of diverse professions in the parliament has been a cause for concern for all about its impact on the betterment of the country. On the one hand, there is anticipation that members of the new parliament will be able to make changes for the better and draft policies for the betterment of the country. But that said, there are also apprehensions that having such diversity could make the legislature challenging to move ahead with key issues.

Advantages

nepal new parliament lawmakers industrialists
Around three dozen businesspersons/industrialists have been directly elected in this year’s election.

For journalist and political analyst Kundan Aryal, such diversity can be considered advantageous as he does not see any disadvantage in having people from diverse professions in the House.

He says such a situation brings the voice of different walks of life to the law-making process. The lawmakers who hold expertise in specific professions can clearly bring out the issues and solutions of the sector they are related to, he hopes. 

Echoing Aryal, political analyst Uddhab Pyakurel says, “They also have the ability to bring the “real” issues of the specific sectors that could otherwise be overshadowed by the issues of the elites.”  

While concerns are there, Nepal’s parliament has a long history of including representatives from diverse professions. That is why analyst Pyakurel does not expect much from this new parliament.

Disadvantages

Despite the advantages, handling such a diverse, hence divided, House could be challenging, according to observers.

Pyakurel fears the new lawmakers representing different groups, once elected to the powerful positions, might show indifference to the issues they went through while working as professionals. Likewise, another challenge is the party’s whip that restricts them from honestly presenting the problem of their own sector, says Aryal. 

According to Aryal, the party’s whip detaches them (the MPs) from professional wisdom and disallows them to present their expertise. They get themselves stuck as just a party cadre. 

“For instance, even the CPN-UML MPs with a background in the legal sector were forced to defend the dissolution of the House by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli,” says Aryal, also a former advisor to Oli. 

However, both analysts believe that some MPs have made an honest effort to present the problem of the specific field in the previous parliament.  

Both of them also agree that lawmakers in the new parliament belonging to the business sector might get themselves involved in decisions that amount to a conflict of interest. While there were such incidents in the past, the new parliament is more vulnerable to that, according to them. 

For instance, during Sushil Koirala’s reign as the prime minister, Tek Bahadur Gurung, who owned a recruitment agency, was made the labour minister. During his time, he made some popular decisions including free visa and ticket provisions for workers going to Malaysia and six other countries. But, these six countries did not include Portugal where his employment agency would send people. This time, more than 30 people, who are either industrialists or businesspeople, have been elected to the House. This means, as per both experts, more risks. 


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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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