Govt frets over possible setback from within

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu

Jan 2, 2017-The government, which is gearing up to push the constitution amendment bill through Parliament, appears apprehensive of a possible setback from within as the campaign against the charter revision gains ground in the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) and Nepali Congress (NC). 

At least two parliamentarians--NC’s Chandra Bhandari and Maoist Centre’s Top Bahadur Rayamajhi--have vowed to vote against the amendment bill with a dozen more likely to follow their footsteps. 

Leaders from across the party line from the western region are united against the proposal to split Hill districts from the Tarai plains, according to Rayamajhi. 

The amendment bill, registered in the Parliament Secretariat on September 29, has proposed to split Province 5 between the Hills and the plains to fulfill the demands of Tharu and Madhesi communities for a Tharuwan/Tharuhat province.   

It will be an uphill task for the government to manage the required vote should it decide to push the bill without taking into confidence the main opposition UML, which has been vehemently protesting against the proposal. 

Of the current total of 594 votes in Parliament, the NC and the Maoist Centre--with 208 and 81 seats respectively--require 396 votes for amendment. So, support of all the Madhes-based parties and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) will be crucial to earn two-thirds majority.

Though senior government officials remain hopeful of support from the RPP, which remains undecided until now, they harbour doubts over unanimous support of lawmakers in the governing coalition.  

“Right now, we are more concerned about the anti-amendment position of our own leaders than threats from the UML. That remains the biggest challenge to passing the bill through Parliament,” said Chakrapani Khanal, chief political advisor to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. 

So far, only the Madhes-based parties look fully supportive of the bill. The regional parties, which had earlier demanded revision in the bill, are now ready to take ownership in the present form. 

“We do have some grievances on the issues of boundaries but we will vote to institutionalise the achievements,” said Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Vice-chairman Hridayesh Tripathi.  

Despite receiving separate assurance from PM Dahal and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba to endorse the amendment bill, the Madhesi parties are not fully convinced that it will happen “partly due to possible vote against the bill from disgruntled MPs of the governing parties and partly due to UML’s opposition”. 

“It certainly won’t be easy to pass the bill. But I am optimistic that the government will, at last, find some ways to push the bill through Parliament,” said Tripathi. 

 The second largest party, which has been obstructing parliamentary proceedings in protest of the proposed amendment, has hardened its stance on the bill in the recent days. 

Some UML leaders have, however, hinted that they are ready to support the bill if the government removed a clause related to the revision of federal boundaries, a condition that is unlikely to be met under the current circumstances. 

Though mindful of both internal and external challenges in endorsing the bill, Maoist Centre Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal put on a brave face saying the amendment bill will garner two-thirds majority. “We are forwarding the bill because we know it will be endorsed by Parliament,” said Bhusal.


Poudel lashes out at UML for disrupting Parliament



Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel has criticised the main opposition CPN-UML that has been protesting against the constitution amendment bill registered in Parliament.

Poudel said here on Sunday that the second largest party had made a serious mistake by obstructing the House business for a long time.

The UML and other opposition parties have been obstructing Parliament since December 1 to protest the constitution amendment proposal registered by the government.

“The UML signed an agreement regarding constitution amendment when it was in the government. Now it cannot escape from the task just because it is in the opposition,” Poudel said during a press meet.

He underscored the need for unity and cooperation among three major parties--the NC, UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre)--for effective implementation of the constitution.

The NC leader urged all the forces to create an environment conducive to holding three levels of elections within a year. “The UML should understand that the polls cannot be conducted by ignoring the agitating Madhesi parties. And the Madhes-based parties should also come to an agreement for the sake of the polls,” he said.

Published: 02-01-2017 07:44

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