Government mulling House prorogation

  • Aims to get poll bills endorsed and declare dates in about 10 days
  • Constitution amendment bill to be put on the back burner
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Jan 21, 2017- The constitution amendment bill that the government has tabled in Parliament has become an albatross around its neck, it seems, as it has not only been opposed by the opposition bloc led by the CPN-UML but also by the forces at whose insistence it was introduced.

Now, with time running out for formulating laws for elections—three levels of polls must be conducted by January 21, 2018 to avoid any constitutional crisis—the government is scrambling to find a way out. Hence, it is planning a drastic move—ending the House session after endorsing election-related laws and putting the constitution amendment bill on hold. The ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) is said to be in a bid to seek the consent from its key coalition partner, the Nepali Congress, so that it could take the proposal to this effect to Speaker Onasari Gharti. 
According to Maoist sources, the ongoing House session is most likely to end within 10 days. 
 “The government will pull out all stops to ensure two-thirds majority to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed after ending the current session of Parliament,” a senior Maoist leader told the Post on the condition of anonymity. “The government will also announce the dates for local polls before the House is prorogued,” the leader added, in a clear indication that the constitution amendment bill will be put on hold. What is not clear is how the government will allay agitating forces’ concerns, as they have been saying they will not participate in the elections until the constitution amendment bill is endorsed by Parliament.  
The ongoing budget session or monsoon session of Parliament began on May 3. 
Five election-related bills—the first three were tabled in Parliament in October and two in December—are currently being finalised by the State Affairs Committee.
The Election Commission last week said poll-related laws must be in place by the end of this month, in about 10 days, if local polls were to be conducted by May. According to Maoist Chief Whip Tek Bahadur Basnet, the government has asked the SAC to send all five election-related bills to the Parliament by January 27.  “The current session has been going on for long; it has to come an ended,” said Basnet, adding that the winter session will be called later. 
But holding polls, for which the UML is also pressing for quite some time, is not going to be a cakewalk for the government, as the Madhes-based forces have already made their position clear. 
Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal rode to Singha Durbar in August on an agreement with the agitating forces that he would address their concerns through an amendment to the constitution. 
But it took the Dahal-led government four months to register the amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat. The amendment bill was tabled in Parliament only on January 8, and by this time, the parties that were pressing for it had started calling it too little, too late. Amid all this, the UML-led opposition bloc upped the ante against the amendment bill. The government must ensure 396 votes in favour in the 594-strong Parliament to get the constitution amendment bill endorsed.
PM Dahal who inducted two ministers from the fringe parties into the Cabinet on Thursday is also trying to woo the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik. 

Published: 21-01-2017 07:45

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