PM for tabling amendment bill ‘tomorrow’

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
PM: Election schedule to be prepared after forwarding the proposal-----Mahato: We cannot support the elections without constitution amendment

Jan 1, 2017-Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has agreed to table the constitution amendment bill in Parliament, possibly on Monday, after the Madhes-based parties renewed their pledge to support the local elections.

The agreement was reached on Saturday between senior leaders of the CPN (Maoist Centre) and leaders from the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha during a meeting held at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar. The meeting comes a day after Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba assured the Morcha leaders of taking the amendment process forward.

In a statement issued after the meeting, PM Dahal said the Morcha leadership agreed to his proposal of holding the local, provincial and federal elections within January 2018, the constitutional deadline.

“There has been an understanding to finalise the 

election schedule after forwarding the proposal,” PM Dahal’s secretariat said in a statement. Saturday’s agreement, though significant, brings Dahal’s government nowhere close to ending the current political stalemate.

The government is now left with a daunting task of bringing the main opposition CPN-UML on board the larger political process. The second largest party has been obstructing parliamentary proceedings for a month pressing the government to roll back the amendment bill.

In addition, Saturday’s agreement also fails to specify what road the agitating parties would take if the amendment bill fails to garner a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

While PM Dahal’s close aides claim that the Morcha would stick to the election plans regardless of how the bill fares in the House, Madhesi leaders have a different take.

Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Vice-chairman Hridayesh Tripathi said the agitating parties would decide their move depending on the fate of the bill.

“Both the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress have assured us that the bill will be endorsed. And we very much hope the constitution will be amended. We will decide what to do later if the bill fails to garner enough votes,” said Tripathi.

Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato said the Morcha would not take part in the elections without the amendments. He said they would stick to this position until the UML supports the bill.

“The constitution should be amended at any cost. We cannot support the elections without that. The UML should also support it if it wants the elections,” said Mahato.

The main opposition, which had earlier threatened to do everything in its might to defeat the bill, now appears willing for a compromise. UML leaders have hinted 

that the bill could be supported if the government removed a clause related to the revision of federal boundaries. The UML has been spearheading a protest in the western region against the plan to split the Hill districts from Province 5.

“We have no intention to remove any clause from the amendment bill. It invites more problems if we do so,” said Chakrapani Khanal, the PM’s chief political adviser.

Published: 01-01-2017 07:49

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