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Nepali Congress still divided on way forward

Majority leaders express doubts on statute implementation without consensus among major political forces on amendment proposal

Nepali Congress, the largest party in Parliament, is yet to come with a united front on the constitution amendment bill, raising questions if the coalition partner has whole-heartedly supported the proposal.
NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba has reiterated that he was confident of the Sanyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha and the main opposition CPN-UML coming to consensus on the amendment bill. If that was not the case, he believes that the government would be able to garner enough votes, with the support of Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the Madhesi Morcha, to pass the amendment bill through the Parliament. The former prime minister has reportedly warned its cadres on going against the proposal.
But a majority of leaders from the party, during public speeches around the country, have raised concerns over some of the issues raised by the bill and have urged the government to take into account the main opposition too before voting for the amendment proposal.
Despite the fact that the amendment bill was registered in Parliament with the support of NC, major of the party leaders have raised concerns over it, NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat said. He lamented that their party leadership had failed to take into account the sentiments of the people before taking an official stance on the amendment bill. “Even the main opposition has shown immaturity by seeking for a solution from outside the Parliament,” said Mahat.
The government registered a constitution amendment bill in Parliament last Tuesday with an aim to address the demands of the Madhes-based parties, mainly over the state boundaries, language, citizenship and representation in Upper House.
Speaking at a programme in Nawalparasi on Tuesday, NC general secretary Sashank Koirala noted that it would not be possible to go ahead with implementing the constitution without the support of the UML. Hinting at his reservations on the government’s proposal to split the Hill districts of Province 5 to incorporate it into Province 4, he said that the government had not been able to hold enough dialogue with all political forces, or with the citizens themselves, before taking a decision on such a sensitive matter. Koirala added that if the government would be wise enough to withdraw the bill if it failed to take into account the UML, Madhesi Morcha and RPP.
Former NC general secretary Prakash Man Singh also expressed his doubts if the government would be able to garner enough votes to support the bill in its present form. “Doors are always open to amend the bill itself if that brings the UML and Madhesi Morcha on board,” he said.
Defence Minister Bal Krishna Khand, Pushpa Bhusal and Chandra Bhandari have also voiced their displeasure at the government's plan to change the federal boundaries of Province 4 and 5. The bill has tried to create Province 5 a Madhes-only state with a view to appease the Madhes-based forces.
However, NC ministers in the government are still hopeful on the amendment bill being passed. Speaking at a function in Chitwan on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi pressed on the need to create a condusive environment to support the amendment bill for the sake of implementing the constitution. He claimed that an amendment proposal was necessary for the larger ownership of the statute, elections and stability in the country.
Published: 07-12-2016
The Kathmandu Post


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