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SLMM drops a hint that it’ll support bill

  • Constitution amendment
  • A senior TMLP leader maintains ‘something is better than nothing’
  • SSF-N reiterates earlier stance, saying it does not address demands

With the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) blowing hot and cold, the government still seems to be in a sort of fix over the constitution amendment bill it has registered at the Parliament Secretariat.

The government on November 29 registered the amendment bill at the Morcha’s insistence. But the Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, refused to take ownership of it, saying it does not address the concerns raised by the agitating forces. Now some of Morcha’s constituents have hinted at offering “conditional support” to get the bill endorsed in Parliament.

Morcha leaders, who have been pressing the government to revise the bill, are saying they could support it when it is put to vote. They, however, are quick to add that their protest against the bill will continue until all their demands are met. 

“It will be good if the government revises the bill before it is put to vote. But the Morcha is left with little choice even if the government refuses to oblige,” Sanghiya Sadbhawana Party Chairman Anil Jha told the Post.

Morcha’s change of heart comes hot on the heels of a meeting between their top leaders and Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae on Saturday. According to leaders present at the meeting, the Indian envoy had advised the Morcha leaders to accept the amendment bill, as their refusal to take ownership of it would help those who are protesting against it.

The amendment bill, which has been opposed by the main opposition CPN-UML, has sparked protests in Province 5. The UML has decided to intensify protests to press the government to withdraw the bill. The Morcha leadership fears that amid its refusal to take ownership of the bill and UML’s opposition, the government might withdraw it, which could mean they will go back to square one.

“Many leaders in the Morcha believe that we should go soft on the amendment bill. It’s better to keep differences aside and support the government now. We will continue our struggle,” said a top leader of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. “Something is better than nothing.” Though some leaders of the constituents of the Morcha have hinted at supporting the bill, it remains unclear whether they will vote in favour.

The Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, led by Upendra Yadav, has already made its position clear that it is against the bill and that it will not vote. The SSF-N has 15 seats in Parliament. SSF-N Co-chair Rajendra Shrestha said his party will not support the bill unless the government revises it and redraws federal boundaries in line with the recommendation made by the erstwhile state restructuring commission. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s close aides told the Pot that the prime minister has been separately talking to Madhesi leaders.

“Talks with Morcha leaders have been positive. But it’s too early to say whether all the parties in the alliance will vote in favour of the bill,” PM Dahal’s Chief Political Adviser Chandra Prakash Khanal told the Post. He also said that PM Dahal is also reaching out to some UML leaders to end the deadlock, but stopped short of revealing the names of these leaders.

Roshan Sedhai
Published: 07-12-2016

The Kathmandu Post


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