Zero hour

  • Without any delay, parties must pass amendment bill and the Madhesi parties must commit to polls

Apr 10, 2017-Election preparations have gathered momentum. The Election Commission is on track to complete preparations, although there have been delays in printing ballot papers for Provinces 2 and 5. The major political parties are busy selecting candidates and launching election campaigns. In most districts, people are keenly awaiting the polls. 

However, the situation in Province 2 is different. People there do wish to participate in elections, but are demoralised due to the government’s failure to address the concerns of the Madhesi parties. Many people keenly hope that an agreement can be reached so that the election process can move ahead smoothly.

Prime Minister Dahal has been busy trying to reach an agreement with the Madhesi parties that will, at the same time, have the support of two-thirds of the members of Parliament. The government has drafted a constitution amendment proposal, which includes provisions relating to the National Assembly, citizenship and language; forming a Federal Commission to address disputes on provincial boundaries at a future date; providing clarification to Article 274 to make clear that only the concerned provinces will have a say on any future efforts at boundary revision; and removing the clause in the constitution that requires local representatives to be included in the electoral college to elect the National Assembly. The Madhesi parties have expressed support towards the amendment. The Nepali Congress has also given a green signal.

This leaves the RPP and the CPN-UML, the two major parties which have not yet expressed an opinion on the matter. It is our belief that these two parties should support the amendment proposal, too. After all, it does not harm any of their core concerns. The opposition of these parties to an amendment in the past was focused on the proposed boundary revision, which sought to separate parts of Province 5 and include it in Province 4. The UML in particular said that this would lead to the “fragmentation of the nation”. Now that the Madhesi parties have come around to supporting an amendment proposal that does not include boundary revisions, there is no reason for the UML to continue opposing it. If it rejects the amendment, it will seem as though the UML is intent on foiling an agreement with the Madhesi parties and preventing elections from going ahead in Province 2 and possibly in Province 5. 

There is only a small sliver of time left to reach an agreement so that local elections can proceed on schedule. Over the next few days, the parties must pass an amendment bill as a matter of urgency. And the Madhesi parties should commit to participating in the local elections. 

Published: 10-04-2017 07:58

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