Constitution amendment: Govt bid to get partners’ support comes a cropper

  • RPP, MJF-L refuse to back bill; Morcha warns of ‘grave consequences’
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Mar 2, 2017-

A day after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal asserted local elections as need of the hour and the agitating Madhes-based parties refused to participate in polls, the government on Wednesday made yet another attempt at exploring ways to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed, but only to fail after some partners in the governing alliance refused to back the bill.

Several fringe parties in the ruling alliance, whose support is crucial to ensure the required numbers in Parliament to amend the constitution, refused to back the constitution amendment bill in its current form.

PM Dahal had called a meeting of partners in the ruling alliance and the Madhes-based parties to explore the possibility of constitution amendment before local level elections scheduled for May 14. 

The Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Loktantrik refused to back the constitution amendment bill, according to several leaders present in the meeting. 

Leaders of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, had reiterated their position that the constitution must be amended before elections. 

During the meeting, Morcha leaders asked PM Dahal and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba to postpone the elections until the constitution is amended. They also warned of “grave consequences” if the government went on with its poll plan through use of force. “We have clearly warned that we will not only boycott the elections but will also do everything we can to foil them,” said Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal Co-chair Rajendra Shrestha. “It will be a prudent move if they postpone the polls and work together to get the amendment bill endorsed,” added Shrestha. 

The RPP, which is part of the government, and the MJF-Loktantrik, which has extended its support to the government from outside 

just like the Morcha, stood against the amendment bill. Both RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa and MJF-Loktantrik Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachhadhar cited need of further revision in the bill. 

“Our party cannot support the bill in its present form, but we are open to discussion on the bill and its passage if it is revised,” Thapa is learnt to have told the meeting without elaborating what changes his party is seeking in the amendment bill. MJF-L General Secretary Ram Janam Chaudhary said that his party would back the bill if the government agreed to go for the eight-province model. The party has also registered an auxiliary amendment to the bill seeking eight provinces.  

PM Dahal, however, ruled out the possibility of postponing polls but told the meeting that the government would continue to make efforts to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed. 

“Nobody is going to benefit if we postpone the elections now. Every side should show some flexibility to end the stalemate,” said Dahal, requesting all to help the government from their sides to pass the amendment bill and conduct the elections.

Published: 02-03-2017 08:27

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