KATHMANDU, Jan 25: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has assured the agitating Madhes-based political parties that the government would hold the local-level election only after amending the constitution.
During a meeting with the top leaders of the agitating parties at his official residence in Baluwatar on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dahal made the assurance after Madhes-based parties warned that they would not support the election if it is held without amending the constitution.
General Secretary of the National Madhes Socialist Party (NMSP) Keshav Jha said there has been an understanding that the government would not announce the date for local-level poll without the consent of the Madhes-based parties. Top leaders of the Madhes-based parties at the meeting had rejected the prime minister’s proposal to announce poll date before the amendments in the constitution.
Prime Minister Dahal had argued that it would be appropriate to announce the date of election right away as it may take some time to amend the constitution.
The prime minister has promised revision of the amendment bill, which is already under discussion in parliament. “Prime Minister Dahal has suggested either revising the existing amendment bill or bringing a supplementary amendment, to address our concerns,” said chief whip of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Shivaji Yadav.
The prime minister specifically made a proposal to remove the constitutional provision that recognizes chiefs and deputy chiefs of village councils and municipalities as members of the electoral colleges that elects national assembly, president and vice president. The meeting decided to form a committee that includes a representative each from the Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center) and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front, according to NMSP General Secretary Jha.
The delineation of local units in Province 2 also figured during the meeting. Jha said there has also been an agreement to form a task force by the cabinet to revise the report submitted by Balananda Paudel-led commission on local level restructuring. The task force will add a few village councils to Province 2 as Madhes-based parties have maintained that the provision to keep the village council chiefs and deputy chiefs in the electoral college undermines the principle of population-based representation.
Chairman of Sadbhawana Party Rajendra Mahato said the proposal of prime minister to revise the amendment bill is positive. “We have clearly told the prime minister that we will be supporting election only if it is held after amending the constitution,” he said.