UML ‘allows’ House to deliberate over bill

  • constitution amendment
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu
Theoretical discussions though have begun in the House, the fate of the constitution amendment bill continues to hang in the balance

Feb 24, 2017-Deliberations on the constitution amendment bill finally started on Thursday, almost three months after it was registered at the Parliament Secretariat and a month and a half after it was tabled in Parliament, following the main opposition CPN-UML’s decision to stay neutral.

Earlier, during a meeting between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Speaker Onasari Gharti and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, the main opposition had decided that it would let deliberations on the constitution amendment bill move forward and that it would stay out of the process.

The House had failed to sit on Tuesday and Wednesday after the UML maintained its earlier position that it would not let the House discuss the constitution amendment bill.

The UML though let the House start theoretical discussions on the bill, it said it was allowing the process “only for one day”. The main opposition has maintained its earlier stance that it would not let the House endorse the constitution amendment bill, which it says is against national interest. 

After the House sat on Thursday, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak tabled the Constitution of Nepal (Second Amendment) before House to consider for deliberations. 

Of the nine parties in the UML-led opposition bloc, only Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party objected to the proposal and demanded that the constitution amendment bill be withdrawn.

The nine-party opposition bloc has been protesting against the amendment bill since it was first registered at the Parliament Secretariat on November 29. The government tabled the bill in Parliament on January 8 amid uproar from the opposition parties.

The opposition bloc since November-end had been obstructing House proceedings to block the bill. 

Even though the UML allowed discussions on the constitution amendment bill on Thursday, its fate still continues to hang in the balance. 

While speaking at Parliament after seeking special time, Subas Nembang, deputy leader of UML’s Parliamentary Party, said that the opposition bloc was letting the House deliberate over the amendment bill “only for one day” and that it would not let the House endorse it. “The country should focus on local elections now,” he said. 

The government, which is under pressure from the Madhes-based parties to amend constitution, lacks the numbers to get the bill endorsed. 

Taking part in Thursday’s discussion, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party leader Sarbendra Nath Sukla said: “The onus is on the ruling Maoist Centre and the Nepali Congress to ensure that the constitution amendment bill gets endorsed. The Madhes-based parties will not participate in elections until the bill is endorsed.”

The Madhes-based parties had supported the Maoist-Congress alliance in forming the government after they were assured that their demand of constitution amendment will be addressed.

The government decision on Monday to declare local level elections for May 14 has vexed the Madhes-based parties no end, and they have announced protests. 

With the House endorsing the proposal to consider discussions on the Constitution of Nepal (Second Amendment, interested lawmakers have 72 hours to register their amendments.

The next House meeting has been scheduled for March 2. 

Published: 24-02-2017 07:52

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