Govt intensifies talks with opposition UML

  • tabling of constitution amendment bill
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jan 2, 2017-In a bid to end the stalemate over the constitution amendment bill that the government is preparing to table in Parliament, leaders from both the ruling coalition and the opposition have intensified talks.

With Parliament scheduled to meet on Monday, leaders of the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the CPN-UML continued negotiations until late Sunday evening. PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal met UML Chair KP Sharma Oli at an undisclosed location while UML Vice-chairman Bhim Rawal discussed matters with Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

There were also informal talks between second-rung leaders. From the Maoist Centre, Shakti Basnet, Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Narayan Kaji Shrestha were engaged in talks with Shankar Pokhrel, Bishnu Poudel and Pradip Gyawali of the UML.

According to leaders, though the talks were cordial, chances of the UML backtracking on its position were slim. The second largest party wants the constitution amendment bill withdrawn or put on hold for parliamentary proceedings to resume.

Sources claimed that the UML told the PM that it was ready to discuss other issues in Parliament if the issue of provincial demarcation was left for the Federal Commission to decide. The PM had responded that the proposal needed to be discussed with the NC and the Madhesi Morcha.

After the alliance of the Madhes-based parties expressed its readiness to take part in the elections once the amendment proposal is endorsed by Parliament, the government is set to table the bill for parliamentary process while the opposition is hell bent on foiling it.

Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson for the Maoist Centre, confirmed that the government was preparing to table the amendment bill on Monday. “If the ongoing informal talks with leaders from the main opposition party fail to make any headway, the government will push the amendment proposal,” claimed Bhusal. She, however, said the government would try its best to take the opposition parties into confidence until the last moment.

Given the rigid positions taken by both sides, the onus lies on Speaker Onasari Gharti to handle the situation. “The Speaker will seek consensus of the parties on the contents. But, if they fail, the leaders would have to forge agreement on the process to end the obstruction of Parliament,” said Babin Sharma, press adviser to the Speaker.

The opposition is planning to foil the ruling parties’ bid to table the amendment proposal. “How Speaker Gharti takes the bill forward will determine our move,” said a UML leader. According to Maoist Centre Chief Whip Tek Bahadur Basnet, a final call on tabling the amendment proposal would be taken after the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee before the House meeting on Monday.

UML Chief Whip Bhanubhakta Dhakal said the governing parties’ statements were only pressure tactics. “I don’t believe the government will push the amendment proposal amid opposition parties are in agitation both within Parliament and outside.”

Published: 02-01-2017 07:22

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