Caught between polls and statute amendment

  • Governing parties struggle to break political deadlock
- Post Report, Kathmandu
Constitution amendment bill tabled in Parliament on January 8 not on the agenda for discussion at today’s House meeting

Jan 20, 2017-The meeting of Parliament will not be discussing the constitution amendment bill on Friday as well, as there has been no progress so far in terms of “finding a meeting point” as promised by the governing parties. 

“The constitution amendment bill is not on the agenda for Friday’s House meeting,” Bharat Raj Gautam, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat, told the Post. 

The constitution amendment bill, registered at the Parliament Secretariat on November 29, was tabled on January 8.

Nine opposition parties led by the CPN-UML have been objecting to the amendment bill that was introduced by the government in a bid to address the demands of the agitating Madhesi and Janajati forces.

The Parliament meeting on January 13 was adjourned after governing parties sought time to find a meeting point, but Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal in particular had had a pretty tight schedule that thwarted any meaningful discussion. 

PM Dahal on Saturday flew to the United Arab Emirates to participate in an energy conference and returned after four days. 

Amid the delay in deliberations on the constitution amendment bill, the government is also pressed for time to introduce election-related laws so as to hold three levels of elections by January 2018 to avoid a constitutional crisis. According to Pampha Bhusal, spokesperson for the CPN (Maoist Centre), the main focus of her party right now is getting election-related bills endorsed. “The House will focus on election-related bills first,” she said.

The Election Commission has made it clear that poll-related laws must be in place by January-end if the government wants to hold local level elections by May. 

But the Madhes-based parties have warned that they will not participate in polls unless the government moves the amendment bill forward and ensures its passage. 

Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav said that the Madhes-based parties would strongly oppose the elections if they are declared without addressing the pressing concerns. “We have clearly told the governing parties that going to elections without resolving the current crisis would push the country towards confrontation. The constitution should be amended first,” said Yadav. 

Hence, the government seems to be caught between a rock and hard place.

One reason why the governing parties have not shown much willingness to discuss the amendment bill in Parliament now is they are trying to ensure two-thirds majority in Parliament to get it endorsed. Thursday’s move of inducting two ministers from fringe parties is being viewed as PM Dahal’s bid to increase the numbers in favour of the amendment bill. 

Bhusal also told the Post that the governing parties will first try to ensure two-thirds majority. And PM Dahal is trying to woo the Rastriya Prajantra Party and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik to join the government for the same.

Published: 20-01-2017 08:19

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