President Bidya Devi Bhandari has appointed CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ as the new Prime Minister of Nepal. He has been appointed as the PM as per the Article 76 Clause 2 of the Constitution, according to a statement issued by the President’s Office.
The President had called any member of the House of Representatives, who can garner a majority with support from two or more parties as stipulated in the Article 76 clause 2 of the Constitution to submit a claim for the Prime Minister’s post.
Prachanda, 68, had submitted the claim before the deadline given by the President expired at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The swearing in ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. on Monday.
Prachanda, along with former PM and CPN-UML chairman K.P. Sharma Oli, Rastriya Swatantra Party president Ravi Lamichhane, Rastriya Prajatantra Party chief Rajendra Lingden among other top leaders, visited the President’s Office with a proposal to appoint him as the new PM, sources said.
He has the support of 165 lawmakers in the 275-member House of Representatives which includes CPN-UML’s 78 and CPN-MC’s 32. A crucial meeting was held on Sunday at Oli’s residence, where CPN-Maoist Centre and the other parties agreed to form a government under the leadership of ‘Prachanda’. There has been an understanding between Prachanda and Oli to lead the government on rotation basis and Oli agreed to make Prachanda Prime Minister at the first chance as per his demand.
Earlier in the day, Prachanda also walked out of the Nepali Congress led five-party alliance after incumbent PM and Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba rejected his bid to become the PM in the first round.
CAG detects anomalies in Assam NRC updation
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has detected large-scale anomalies in the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise was started after bureaucrat Prateek Hajela was appointed the State Coordinator in October 2013. The complete draft of the list of citizens was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh people out of a total of 3.3 crore applicants.
The CAG report ending March 31, 2020, submitted to the 126-member Assam Assembly on December 24, said 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software used for the updating exercise due to the lack of proper planning.
“These were done without following the due process of either software development or selection of vendors through eligibility assessment following a national tendering,” the report said, noting that highly secure and reliable software was required for such an exercise.
The haphazard development of software and utilities for the NRC data capture and correction posed the risk of data tampering without leaving any audit trail. Consequently, the intended objective of preparing a valid and error-free NRC was not met, the CAG report said.
The report pointed out that the project cost for the NRC escalated from ₹288.18 crore to ₹1,602.66 crore due to the time taken to undertake the exercise.
The CAG sought penal measures against system integrator Wipro Limited for violation of the Minimum Wages Act as “payment was made to operators at a rate less than the minimum wages”.
The amount of wages paid to the outsourced staff was 45.59-64.27% less than the rate approved by the NRC coordination committee, the CAG report said, adding that the difference of wages allowed undue benefit of ₹155.83 crore to the system integrator and the labour contractor beyond the 10% “reasonable profit margin”.
Raising retirement age for judges could extend service of non-performers: Justice Department tells Parliamentary Panel
Increasing the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges could extend the years of service of non-performing judges and might have a cascading effect with government employees raising similar demands, the Department of Justice told a Parliamentary panel.
The Department made a presentation before the Parliamentary panel on Personnel, Law, and Justice, chaired by BJP MP Sushil Modi.
It said that increasing the retirement age of judges would be considered along with measures to ensure transparency and accountability in appointments to the higher judiciary.
The department, part of the Ministry of Law and Justice, made the presentation that comprised details of judicial processes and reforms, including on the possibility of increasing the retirement age of High Court and Supreme Court judges. It also suggested that raising the retirement age of judges should be considered along with bringing down pending cases and bringing transparency in the judiciary.
The department said increasing the retirement age may deprive tribunals of having retired judges as presiding officers or judicial members. It also cautioned that retirement age may have a cascading effect.
China ready to work with India for ‘steady and sound growth’ of ties: Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China is ready to work with India for the “steady and sound growth” of bilateral ties and the two countries are committed to upholding stability at the border areas where tensions have prevailed since 2020.
Addressing a symposium on the international situation and China’s foreign relations in 2022, Wang said both countries maintained communication through diplomatic and military-to-military channels.
“We stand ready to work with India in the direction toward steady and sound growth of China-India relations,” he said.
Wang, along with India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, is the Special Representative of the India-China boundary mechanism, which has remained dormant in the present set of border standoffs.
In his lengthy address on China’s diplomatic work, Wang focused more on China’s troubled ties with the U.S. and burgeoning relations with Russia, despite the Ukraine war.
He briefly touched on India-China relations that have been bogged down since April 2020 when China tried to move a large number of its troops to the disputed areas in Easter Ladakh, resulting in a prolonged military standoff. The two countries have held 17 rounds of talks so far to resolve the standoff.
In his address, Wang also spoke about China’s opposition to “bloc confrontation”. “We have continued to reject bloc confrontation and zero-sum competition, and maintained strategic stability in relations with other major countries,” he said.
Beijing has been opposing the formation of the Quad alliance comprising the U.S., India, Australia and Japan, as well as the AUKUS alliance of the US, Australia, and the UK. China claims that such blocs are aimed at containing its rise.
He said the BRICS countries have projected a resounding voice for global equity and justice, and injected strong BRICS impetus into global economic recovery and development.
Putin says Russia ready to negotiate over Ukraine
President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to negotiate with all parties involved in the war in Ukraine but Kyiv and its Western backers had refused to engage in talks.
“We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them — we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin told Rossiya 1 state television in an interview aired on Sunday.
Putin also criticised the West for trying to “tear apart” Russia, in extracts from the interview to be aired on national television later.
“At the core of it all is the policy of our geopolitical opponents aiming to tear apart Russia, the historical Russia,” he said. “They have always tried to ‘divide and conquer’... Our goal is something else — to unite the Russian people,” he added.
Putin has used the concept of “historical Russia” to argue that Ukrainians and Russians are one people — undermining Kyiv’s sovereignty and justifying his 10-month offensive in Ukraine. “We are acting in the right direction, we are protecting our national interests, the interests of our citizen, of our people,” Putin said.
PM Narendra Modi extended the season’s greetings to people, urging them to be a little cautious while enjoying the festivals, given the increase in COVID-19 cases in many countries. “I wish you all the best for the year 2023. May this year also be special for the country, may the country keep touching new heights, and together we have to take a resolution as well as make it come true,” Modi said during his “Mann Ki Baat” radio address. He also paid tributes to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birth anniversary. He also said that the country gained a new momentum in 2022, becoming the world’s fifth largest economy; surpassing the figure of 220 crore vaccines; crossing the exports figure of $400 billion; adopting the resolution of “self-reliant India”; welcoming the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant; and achieving new landmarks in various fields, including space, drone technology, defence, and sports.
Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.