Constitution amendment: Congress divided over way forwardWith the government pledging to table a constitution amendment proposal in a few days, two distinct observations are seen in the coalition partner Nepali Congress on the way forward.
With the government pledging to table a constitution amendment proposal in a few days, two distinct observations are seen in the coalition partner Nepali Congress on the way forward.
Some party leaders, including those in the government, say that a constitution amendment proposal should be tabled by the ruling parties—CPN (Maoist Centre) and the NC—in accordance with the three-point agreement signed with the Sanghiya Gathabandhan, an alliance of Madhesi and Janajati parties, while forming the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The agreement included declaring those killed during the latest Madhes Andolan as martyrs and providing relief to those injured during the protests against the new constitution last year. Next, the government would seek political consensus on state delineation to move a statute amendment proposal in Parliament.
But since the main opposition has taken a rigid stance on amending the constitution as CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli continues to question its rationale, some NC leaders are said to have urged the prime minister to table the amendment proposal before seeking support of other fringe parties to pass it.
The possibility of merger between the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the RPP-Nepal, according to leaders, would make it easier for the government to garner the support of the new force to the amendment. They believe that the proposal could be passed even without the UML’s support.
“Even the Gathabandhan, in a recent meeting, suggested that the government adhere to the three-point deal and table a proposal as soon as possible. But in that case it seems unlikely that the UML would support it,” said former NC general secretary Prakash Man Singh.
Other leaders, however, have urged the government to take the main opposition into confidence before tabling the amendments. They maintain that three major parties—NC, Maoist Centre and UML—should remain one for the sake of smooth implementation of the constitution passed last year. “An amendment proposal would only be meaningful after the government seeks consensus with the main opposition on the matter,” said NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat.
Leaders stress that the onus lies on the NC, the largest party in Parliament, to take a lead in the whole process. “Implementing the statute is the most important issue. For that, we need to hold timely polls. But, again, it’s crucial to take all the parties into account before going to the polls,” said Singh, urging party President Sher Bahadur Deuba to have an active role. “Let’s not forget that the constitution itself may be in danger if we fail to hold the polls before Parliament is automatically dissolved.”
The constitution stipulates that three layers of polls—local, state, federal—should be held before the current Constituent Assembly-turned-Legislature-Parliament’s tenure ends in January 2018.
- Some leaders, including those in government, believe an amendment proposal could be passed without the UML
- Others want the main opposition taken into confidence before tabling the proposal