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Statute revision sans boundary revision?

  • PM says provincial demarcation should not be an issue for local polls
  • Calls on Madhes-based parties to participate in elections on May 14
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Mar 15, 2017-Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal once again on Tuesday called on the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, to participate in local level elections, saying that provincial boundaries should not be an issue for these polls.

At a programme organised at the Lalitpur Metropolitan City to make an announcement of new local units that formally came into force on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dahal said the government was committed to amending the constitution—but at an opportune time—to address the Morcha’s demands.

The Madhes-based parties’ decision to support Dahal during prime ministerial election in August was premised on his promise to amend the constitution. But the government decision of announcing local level polls without constitution amendment has set the Madhes-based parties’ teeth on edge, and they are calling for postponing local polls and endorsing a revised constitution amendment bill.

A constitution amendment bill introduced on January 8 in Parliament has failed to move forward, largely due to opposition from the CPN-UML, which has maintained that the proposal is “against national interest”. 

Dahal’s statement on Tuesday comes amid intensified parleys among parties to find a way to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed.

PM Dahal on Monday sought UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli’s support to amend the constitution. The governing coalition is also holding discussions with the Madhes-based parties to convince them to participate in the polls. It was not clear whether PM Dahal was trying to send a message that the government was planning to amend the statute without addressing the issues related to federal boundaries.  Whether PM Dahal is in bid to win UML’s support by putting forth a proposal of amending the constitution without changing provincial boundaries could not be verified.

Sources in Morcha claimed that government “is planning to endorse the constitution amendment bill addressing other issues than those related to boundary” before the polls set for May 14. Major parties seem to be on the same page on this, they said.

PM Dahal’s Chief Political Adviser Chakrapani Khanal said the government “is doing its best” to amend the charter. “If this effort fails, the government will try to amend the constitution without touching federal boundaries,” he said.

Published: 15-03-2017 08:26

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