Numbers game after bill enters Parliament

  • Constitution amendment
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Nov 27, 2016-

The government is seeking Madhes-based parties’ commitment to elections before it registers a constitution amendment proposal in Parliament. 

But for the proposal to get endorsed by Parliament, 396 lawmakers have to vote in favour. 

So, what are the prospects of the amendment proposal getting through once it enters Parliament? 

Currently 198 lawmakers from seven parties, including the main opposition CPN-UML, are against constitution amendment. The CPN-ML, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, Rastriya Janamorcha, Madhes Samata Party, Janamukti Party and Nepa Party are most likely to vote against the proposal. 

The current strength of Parliament is 594, which means if 198 lawmakers vote against the proposal, almost all the remaining lawmakers must vote in favour. Hence numerically, the amendment proposal can get a two-thirds majority in the House. 

But there are some caveats.

The main problem emanates from the governing coalition itself. At least four parties that are either in the government or that voted for Pushpa Kamal Dahal during the prime ministerial election in August are still undecided. They include Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJF-L) and CPN (Untied). They have 69 seats. 

As of now, 327 lawmakers appear to be in favour of constitution amendment. But given the brewing dissatisfaction within the Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre), it’s too early to say the amendment proposal will get endorsed easily. 

Janamukti Party which voted against Dahal in the prime ministerial election is likely to extend “conditional support”. “If the government decides to withdraw the provision regarding naturalised citizenship, we can think about supporting the proposal,” said Shiva Lal Thapa, chairman of the party. If the party with two lawmakers decides to support, the ruling alliance will have 398 lawmakers, two more than required, to pass the proposal. 

Yogendra Chaudhary, chief whip of MJF-L, said his party is for voting in favour of the amendment. “But the government first needs to make sure the dissenting Madhesi parties agree to the proposal,” he said. “We are for amendment if it addresses the concerns of the agitating parties.” 

The RPP has called its Parliamentary Party meeting to decide on the matter. 

Published: 27-11-2016 08:03

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