Bill to be put to vote today? Govt indecisive

  • Constitution amendment
  • Ruling coalition struggles to muster required numbers to pass proposal
- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 4, 2017-With nominations for the first phase of local level elections scheduled for May 14 concluded on Tuesday, the poll cycle has moved one step ahead, but some concerns still remain regarding the second phase which has been announced for June 14. 

For the elections in 41 districts in four provinces (1, 2, 5, 7), the agitating Madhes-based parties have set a precondition-that the constitution amendment bill must be endorsed before June 14. 

After reaching an agreement with the Madhes-based parties, the government on April 11 registered a revised constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat. The parties had also reached an agreement that the process to endorse the bill would be fast-tracked so as to bring the agitating forces on board poll process. 

According to sources, voting on the constitution amendment bill has been included in Thursday’s Legislature-Parliament agenda. But given the large number of amendment proposals registered, it is unlikely that the voting will take place on Thursday, an informed source told the Post. On top of that, the ruling alliance is still struggling to muster two-thirds majority required to pass the bill. 

According to Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak, whether the bill will be put to vote on Thursday will depend on how the main opposition CPN-UML presents itself during Thursday’s Parliament meeting. The bill will be put to vote if time permits and situation is favourable, he said.

The ruling Nepali Congress-Maoist Centre alliance earlier on Sunday was planning to put the bill to vote. 

But the plan was put on hold after it became clearer that the governing coalition lacked the required numbers to endorse the bill. 

Around a dozen lawmakers from the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, which until Sunday was part of the government, decided to remain absent during the voting, complicating the matters for the ruling coalition.

The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which was formed after the merger of six Madhes-based parties, has made endorsement of the constitution amendment bill and increasing number of local units its preconditions for participating in the polls. 

With the first phase of polls only 11 days away, the government is under pressure to address the agitating parties’ concerns, as their refusal to participate in the second phase of polls could give rise to serious complications. 

According to Bharat Raj Gautam, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat, after Minister Nayak presents the bill [on Thursday], clause-wise discussions will follow and there will be voting on proposals that have been registered seeking to amend the bill. 

As many as 50 amendment proposals have been registered and they have to be put for discussions in Parliament before the bill is put to vote. 

“This is a time-consuming process,” said Nayak, hinting that voting on the bill could be pushed for a further date. 

A meeting of the Legislature-Parliament meeting has been called for 3pm.

Published: 04-05-2017 07:49

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