A bid to find consensus on a constitution amendment proposal failed on Monday after the CPN-UML appeared dead set against it.
After Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called for consensus on amendment to four issues of the constitution and explained how the provincial boundary row could be addressed, UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli urged Dahal not to register the proposal, saying “it is anti-national”, according to a leader who was present in the three-party meeting.
Oli is also learnt to have told the ruling coalition that the UML would “do what the main opposition is supposed to do” if the government “forcibly registers the amendment proposal”, according to the leader, who said the main opposition presented itself aggressively at the meeting.
With the main opposition, which on Sunday made its stance clear that it would reject the constitution amendment proposal, refusing to budge from its position on Monday as well, the governing parties—CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress (NC)—are now mulling over registering the amendment proposal without the support of the UML.
The merger between Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and RPP-Nepal on Monday may also have made the ruling coalition believe that the amendment proposal could be endorsed without the support of the UML, the second largest party in Parliament.
After UML leaders left the meeting, coalition partners decided to hold talks with the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), a coalition of seven Madhes-based parties, about constitution amendment.
“The UML is not ready to amend the constitution. So the government will hold discussions with the Madhesi forces and move ahead accordingly,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi said after the meeting.
But nonetheless, the Morcha also has its fair share of reservations about the proposal on which the government has been working. It has warned that it will disown the proposal if it fails to address all of its concerns.
Leaders of the ruling coalition said the Maoist Centre and the NC would discuss the next move after holding talks with Morcha leaders. Maoist and NC leaders are of the view that there is no point in registering the proposal if the Morcha refuses to take ownership.
During the three-party meeting, PM Dahal had presented the plan to resolve the row over provincial boundaries. Proposing Nawalparasi to Bardiya as Province 5, PM Dahal had suggested that seven hilly districts from Province 5 could be adjusted in other provinces—something which was jointly floated by the NC and the UML earlier in the Constituent Assembly. But the UML refused to budge.
Oli is also learnt to have told PM Dahal that the latter was leading the country towards confrontation.
“The UML backtracked from its earlier position. Hence, the consensus bid failed,” said Maoist leader Barshaman Pun. “The government will now hold discussions with the Madhes-based parties to decide the next move.” According to UML Vice Chairman Bhim Rawal, the main opposition during Monday’s meeting made it clear that “there is no point in registering the amendment proposal as the Morcha itself is not ready for it”.