Govt offers changes in amendment billThe government has proposed an “all-party taskforce” to revise the Constitution Amendment Bill before endorsing it from Parliament.
The government has proposed an “all-party taskforce” to revise the Constitution Amendment Bill before endorsing it from Parliament.
The current amendment bill, registered by the Sushil Koirala-led government, seeks to delineate the electoral constituencies taking both population and geography into account besides mentioning the phrase proportional and inclusive representation in Article 42.
Madhes-centric parties want delineation of the electoral constituencies solely on the basis of the population with a provision to revise it every 10 years.
Similarly, the Madhesi parties have been insisting that “proportional and inclusive representation” of all marginalised communities should be ensured in all state bodies by mentioning it in all key articles.
Constitution amendment is the first step in the three-point roadmap forwarded by the government to address the concerns of Madhes-centric parties. The roadmap, endorsed through the Cabinet and submitted to the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), plans to revise the federal boundaries within three months based on a decision of a high-level political mechanism.
In a meeting with Morcha leaders on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa said that the proposed taskforce comprising the ruling, opposition and agitating parties would make “necessary revision” to the amendment bill pertaining to electoral laws and inclusive and proportional representation of all ethnic communities. However, the three-point letter submitted to all parties, including the Morcha, has not made clear mention of the taskforce.
“The government is ready to take the agitating groups into confidence before endorsing the bill. But they must come with a clear position first,” said Bishnu Rimal, Prime Minister KP Oli’s chief political advisor.
The SLMM leaders engaged in informal negotiation with the major parties have hinted at supporting the amendment bill if the latter agreed to ensure electoral constituencies based on the population ratio.
Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur said that they were seeking a credible assurance to redraw the boundaries in the spirit of the past agreement with the Madhesi parties and delimitation of electoral constituencies based on the population ratio.
“Besides boundaries, our main concern is with delineation of constituencies. Madhes should get at least 84 seats as it is home to over 51 percent of population,” said Thakur. The new constitution has proposed to take both population and geography into account to delineate the electoral constituencies.
If the electoral constituencies are determined solely on the basis of the population, the 20 districts in the Tarai would get 83 seats.
Even as the situation in Tarai districts has worsened with sporadic clashes between protesters and security forces in the wake of Morcha’s announcement last week to intensify the protest, its leadership remain engaged in discussion with the major parties.
The Morcha leaders said pressure was mounting from all sides to resolve the Tarai standoff through dialogue.
The SLMM leadership also discussed with Nepali Congress top guns, seeking the latter’s support to press the government for an early solution to the problem. During the meeting, Morcha leaders asked the NC leadership to support in necessary revision to the amendment bill. The two sides are scheduled continue talks on Tuesday.
Morcha leaders have assured maximum flexibility if the major parties show seriousness in resolving disputes. Nepal Sadbhawana Party Chairman Mahendra Raya Yadav, however, said that they “cannot accept any offer that does not address demarcation issues in advance”.