Constitution amendment bill fails in Parliament

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Aug 22, 2017-

The constitution amendment bill failed in Parliament on Monday, as the ruling alliance could not ensure 395 votes in the 592-strong Parliament.  

Of the 553 lawmakers present in Parliament on Monday, only 347 voted in favour of the constitution amendment, a key demand of the Madhes-based parties. The ruling alliance fell short of 48 votes to pass the bill. Interestingly, of the 39 lawmakers who were absent on Monday, majority were from the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre). 

“As 347 votes in favour of an amendment to the constitution fell short of the two-thirds votes required, the second constitution amendment bill has been rejected by Parliament,” announced Speaker Onasari Gharti after voting. 

Fifty proposals seeking amendments to the bill were put to voting before the House voted on the constitution amendment bill. 

While the ruling alliance withdrew their two amendments, 48 proposals registered by the main opposition CPN-UML, CPN-ML and other fringe parties were rejected by Parliament.

The process to put the constitution amendment bill to vote moved forward on August 16 after the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N), a unified force of six Madhes-based parties, said on August 11 that it was ready to accept the outcome. 

The bill, however, was expected to fail, as the UML-led opposition bloc controlled a significant number of lawmakers opposing the constitution amendment. 

Constitution amendment has been one of the key demands of the RJP-N, which had refused to participate in the two rounds of local polls held in May and June, saying the government failed to address its concerns. The RJP-N has been demanding redrawing of provincial boundaries to ensure wider representation of Madhesis in Parliament and changes in citizenship provisions. 

The RJP-N has said the party will decide its future course, including its position on September 18 local elections, on Tuesday. “We have called a meeting of the party’s office bearers tomorrow,” said RJP-N leader Laxman Lal Karna. 

The UML, the Kamal Thapa-led Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Rastriya Janamorcha, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Newa Party among others voted against the constitution amendment bill, while the RPP (Prajatantrik), which has 18 lawmakers after it split from Thapa’s RPP, led by Pashupati Shumsher Rana remained absent during Monday’s voting. 

 

 

Fast facts

 

  • Parliament strength: 592
  • Required number of votes to amend the constitution: 395 
  • Lawmakers present during voting: 553
  • Votes in favour of the amednment bill: 347
  • Votes against the bill: 206 

 

 

Timeline 

 

  • Sept 20, ’15: New constitution promulgated amid protests by Madhesi groups along the plains
  • Jan 23, ’16: Parliament votes to amend the constitution  
  • Nov 29, ’16: Govt registers second constitution amendment bill 
  • Jan 8, ’17: Govt tables the bill in Parliament 
  • April 11: Govt withdraws the earlier amendment bill and tables a new one
  • April 20: Six Madhes-based parties merge to form RJP-N
  • May 14: First phase of local polls held, RJP-N does not participate
  • June 28: Second phase of local polls held, RJP-N boycotts
  • July 11: Governing parties tell RJP-N statute amendment not possible as they lack required numbers
  • Aug 11: RJP-N requests govt to put amendment bill to vote, agrees to join third phase local polls on September 18
  • Aug 16: Process to amend the constitution starts
  • Aug 21: Amendment bill fails in Parliament by 48 votes

Published: 22-08-2017 07:42

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