Opposition to allow amendment bill if UDMF agrees to local polls

February 23, 2017 01:30 AM Ashok Dahal

KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Opposition political parties have said they would allow voting on the constitution amendment bill in parliament only if the agitating Madhes-based parties give a commitment to participate in the local polls.

The opposition, which  was against allowing deliberations on the amendment bill in parliament, has said that the agitating Madhesi parties must commit to accepting the result of the parliamentary vote on the bill and participate in local elections.

“We have become flexible in our previous stance following the government's request for creating an environment for local polls. But the UDMF must express its commitment to accepting the result of the voting on the bill in parliament and it must be ready to participate in local elections,” Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, chief whip of the CPN-UML, told Republica.

The House meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been put off till Thursday afternoon as UML insisted that the UDMF must commit itself to accepting the outcome of the voting in parliament. The agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has declined to commit itself to the result in advance. 

“As the government has assured us of addressing our demand through the constitutional amendment we want the promises made by the government fulfilled. If the result is otherwise, we will take our decision based on the changed context,” said Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party General Secretary Sarbendra Nath Shukla after the deferral of the House meeting.

The agitating parties have opposed the government decision to announce the election date of May 14, saying it was unacceptable to them without their demands being addressed through constitutional amendment first. 

The government has been urging UML, the second largest party in parliament, for its support to help put the bill to a vote in parliament. The UML-led nine-party opposition alliance had obstructed House meetings for a month, terming it “a bill against the national interest”.

As the opposition alliance at present almost commands the strength in parliament to foil the constitution amendment bill, the government has asked the alliance to allow it to put the bill to a vote even if it fails to secure a two-thirds majority.

A meeting of the UML parliamentary party and a separate meeting of the nine-party alliance decided to demand that the government and the UDMF express commitment to accepting the voting result in parliament and that the UDMF commit to participating in the local elections. “The government and UDMF must make it clear that they will accept the result of the vote in parliament. We have clearly told the the government that we will take our decision immediately after they answer our questions,” said UML Vice Chairman Bhim Rawal after the meeting. 

However, the government, while urging the UML to help begin the process in parliament, has requested the UDMF to accept the decision of parliament without any prior conditions. “We will leave no stone unturned to endorse the amendment bill through parliament but it is up to the House to  decide on it. Both sides should accept  parliament's decision and take their issue to the public,” said Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak. 

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