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Parties turn the National Assembly into a platform for losers

Parties turn the National Assembly into a platform for losers

In Nepal’s bicameral parliament, the National Assembly or the upper house consists of 59 members. Of them, 56 members are elected through the electoral college and three, including at least one woman, is nominated by the President on the recommendation of the government. 

Ideally, the NA is distinct from the lower house, which is dominated by politicians. It serves as an eclectic council of experts and scholars that advise the lower house or the House of Representatives during the lawmaking process. It plays a vital role in holding the HoR and the government to account. The upper house is also a permanent body, and the term of its member can last for a maximum of six years. One-third members retire every two years and elections are held accordingly.  

As election for 19 seats in the NA is set to take place on Jan 25, the major political parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)—are engaged in an intense horse-trade to secure positions for leaders who couldn't find their way into the lower house. They have turned the upper house into a platform to accommodate the leaders who lost the election or did not get a chance to enter the lower house under the proportional representation category. 

Instead of appointing experts as envisioned by the constitution, the major political parties have hijacked the upper house and turned it into a losers’ club. As politicians are getting elected under the expert’s quota, the NA is failing to perform its true duty, and the political parties are endorsing controversial bills.

On Monday, the cross-party leaders registered their candidacy for the NA election. The Nepali Congress has fielded its senior leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula for one of the seats. Sitaula, who played a vital role in Nepal’s peace process, lost the 2022 parliamentary elections against Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Rajendra Lingden. His candidacy has drawn criticism both inside and outside the party.

Some critics are of the view that it is wrong to field somebody in the NA election who had lost the general election just a year ago. Others are calling out the Congress party for repeating the same old leaders, instead of introducing fresh faces. 

Sitaula and his party is eyeing for the post of the upper house chair, as the incumbent NA Chairman Ganesh Prasad Timalsina’s term is ending in April. Inside the party, Sitaula’s candidacy has been criticized by leaders including the general secretary duo, Bishwa Prakash Sharma and Gagan Kumar Thapa. 

“There are many others who are eligible to become members. There are leaders who have made a lot of contribution to the party and the country,” said Sharma. He noted that the party has failed to implement the provision of inclusion in its truest sense.

Thapa also expressed dissatisfaction over the party’s NA election candidates. “Our constitution has envisioned the representation of under privileged groups and experts in the National Assembly. The party’s decision goes against the standard that we set ourselves,” he said. 

The Nepali Congress is not the first and the only party that has failed to honor the spirit of the upper house. The incumbent Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha from the CPN (Maoist Center) is another notable political figure to enter the NA after an electoral loss. Similarly, senior political leader Bam Dev Gautam, formerly of the UML, is also serving as an upper house member after losing the HoR election. 

The current ruling alliance, including the Congress, Maoist Center and CPN (Unified Socialist), has forged an electoral alliance, while the main opposition, CPN-UML, has decided to fight alone. The ruling coalition is likely to win almost all the seats. Although Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal wanted to accommodate the UML, his attempt did not yield any result due to the objection from some coalition partners. 

Regarding the appointments to be made by the President, the parties are unsurprisingly preparing to recommend more politicians, instead of the experts. Since its formation in 2018, there has been rare appointment of experts in the upper house. With politicians ruling the roost, the NA is no longer the conscience keeper of parliament. It has failed to function independently due to the excessive influence of the government and political parties.  

The key functions of NA


  • Providing expert service
  • Promulgation of laws
  • Holding government accountable
  • Regulation and issuing directives
  • Conducting parliamentary hearing