Constitution amendment: Madhes-based parties press PM to revise bill

  • Reject request for cooperation to hold local level elections in mid-April
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Dec 2, 2016-

Two days after the government registered a constitution amendment bill, the Madhes-based parties, at whose insistence the move was taken, on Thursday called for revising the bill before it is put to vote, saying that their consent was not taken before it was registered. 

The Madhes-based parties’ hardened position has driven the government into a corner, as it is already facing stiff opposition from the CPN-UML, which has already started disrupting the House to protest against the bill.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday, leaders of the Madhes-based parties said, “The bill does not address the concerns of Madhesi, Janajati, marginalised and excluded communities”. PM Dahal had invited the Madhes-based parties to seek their support for holding local elections, which he has proposed for mid-April.

Admitting that the bill does not address all the concerns raised by the agitating parties, PM Dahal had assured the Madhesi leaders that the government would work to fulfil their demands. “But I urge you all not to reject the proposal,” Dahal is learnt to have told the Madhesi leaders. 

Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal (SSF-N) Chairman Upendra Yadav was critical about PM Dahal for registering the bill without consulting the agitating parties. Ruling out the possibility of voting in favour of the bill unless it is revised in line with the agitating parties’ demands, Yadav is learnt to have said in the meeting that the amendment bill “does not address even the minimum demands.”

Responding to PM Dahal’s request to cooperate the government to hold elections, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur said the agitating parties would rather foil the polls if the government tried to move ahead disregarding the agitating parties’ concerns. 

“Elections can be accepted only if the government agrees to revise the amendment bill,” said Thakur.

The Madhesi leaders have demanded that the government revise at least three provisions related to federal boundaries, citizenship and representation in the Upper House. They are unhappy that the government has failed to mention the five “disputed” districts—Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kanchanpur and Kailali—in the bill. They have also refused to go with the provision in the bill regarding citizenship, saying it gives unequal treatment to foreign women married to Nepali men. They have also called for ensuring inclusive and proportional representation of all communities on all state bodies based on the population ratio. 


Oppn forces obstruct House

KATHMANDU: Opposition parties on Thursday disrupted the meeting of the Legislature-Parliament to protest against the government move of registering a constitution amendment bill even as Speaker Onasari Gharti said the business for the day was not the amendment bill but the impeachment motion against Lokman Singh Karki.

No sooner had the House sat for the day’s business than lawmakers from four opposition parties, including the CPN-UML, rose from their seats and obstructed the proceedings, following which Speaker Gharti rescheduled to the next House meeting for Friday.

A day after the government registered the bill, the UML on Wednesday had officially decided to obstruct House proceedings to block the bill. “The parties in opposition object to the constitution amendment bill,” said UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam as soon as the House meeting began, adding that it was introduced to please “external forces”. 

The CPN-ML, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha then rallied around the UML. These four opposition parties have 194 lawmakers in the 594-strong House. “The PM either does not know about constitution or he wants to violate it,” he said. Speaker Gharti reminded the protesting lawmakers that the House was scheduled to discuss the impeachment motion against Karki, but her repeated calls to let the House function were lost in the din of opposition parties’ protest. (PR) 

Published: 02-12-2016 08:45

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