House endorses bill amid the din461 lawmakers vote in favour, seven against, agitating Madhes-based parties boycott voting
Parliament was a perfect pandemonium on Saturday evening, and amidst the din of slogan-shouting by the agitating Madhes-based parties, it endorsed the First Amendment to the Constitution of Nepal, exactly four months after its promulgation on September 20.
Of the 468 lawmakers who participated in the voting on Saturday, 461 voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill and seven lawmakers—from Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and Rastriya Janamorcha—voted against.
The Madhes-based parties, who since the country adopted the new charter have been protesting in the Tarai plains, did not participate in the voting.
Saturday’s vote amended three Articles of the constitution: Article 42 (social justice), Article 84 (formation of House of Representatives) and Article 286 (Electoral Constituency Delineation Commission).
On Article 42, Saturday’s amendment has decreased the number of ethnic clusters to 15 from 17. The agitating parties had also demanded that the “Khas Arya” group be delisted from the cluster, but the major parties have decided to rephrase it to call it “marginalised Khas Arya”.
On Article 84, instead of emphasising on “geography and population while delineating electoral constituencies for the House of Representatives,” the amendment has called for making population the primary basis and geography the secondary basis.
On Article 286, the amendment says: while delimiting the constituencies, the Constituency Delineation Commission will, in line with Article 84 (1), delimit constituencies, and each district within every province will have at least one constituency.
“The district might function as the basis for delineation [of constituencies] at the provincial level, said Bishnu Rimal, Chief Political Advisor of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
“But the amendment has—to a large extent—guarantees that the number of electoral constituencies in the Tarai will increase in line with Morcha’s demands,” he added.
As many as 103 lawmakers from different parties had registered 24 amendment proposals. Of them, 17 proposals—six registered by the NC, 10 by the UCPN (Maoist) and one by Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Loktantraik—were withdrawn, and they were merged together to make one proposal which was endorsed.
The final amendment proposal was incorporated in line with the middle path proposed Nepali Congress lawmaker Minendra Rijal and Farmullah Mansoor.