Amendment bill set in motion after month-long hiatus
The amendment bill is not worthy of endorsement. We (nine parties) are against it and will not allow its endorsement.
– Subas Nembang, deputy leader, UML parliamentary party
KATHMANDU, Feb 24: After a month-long hiatus, the constitution amendment bill has been set in motion in parliament, with the opposition parties softening their stance and allowing deliberations on it.
Concluding the discussions on the bill on Thursday, the House has decided to provide lawmakers 72 hours to register any further amendments. Lawmakers can register written amendment proposals within the given timeframe.
Earlier, the main opposition CPN-UML, in response to a government request, agreed to open the way for the parliamentary process on the bill. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had urged UML Chairman K P Sharma Oli on Thursday to allow the amendment bill for discussions in parliament, stating that that would help create an environment for the polls.
Speaking at the start of the House meeting, deputy leader of the UML’s parliamentary party, Subas Nembang, informed the House of the decision of the opposition parties not to obstruct the amendment bill for one day.
“We will not obstruct the amendment bill for one day, but as we are still opposed to it and we are not taking part in the deliberations. We will remain silent,” he said.
The opposition parties have claimed that they will not allow the amendment bill to be endorsed by the House. “The amendment bill is not worthy of endorsement. We (nine parties) are against it and will not allow its endorsement,” Nembang further said.
After the opposition alliance allowed deliberations on the amendment bill for a day, the House concluded the deliberations and forwarded the bill to the parliament secretariat. This allowed lawmakers to register further amendments.
Speaking during the deliberations, lawmakers urged the political parties to endorse the amendment bill unanimously in order to address the grievances of the Madhesi people over the new constitution and pave the way for local polls.
Taking part in the deliberations, lawmakers representing Madhes-based political parties urged all political parties to endorse the bill. They also demanded revisions to make the amendment more widely acceptable.
“It will not be proper to go to elections without endorsing the bill and without also making the amendment acceptable to all. We believe the opposition parties will accept the amendment bill and it will be endorsed by parliament,” said Sarbendra Nath Shukla, general secretary of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party.
Lawmakers from the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center), however, urged the opposition parties and the agitating Madhesi parties both to endorse the amendment bill, claiming that it was adequate for addressing the demands of the Madhesi people.
“The amendment bill is a milestone for the implementation of the new constitution. It will address the demands of all Madhesi people rather than any individuals or particular parties alone,” said NC lawmaker Farmullah Mansoor.
Umesh Yadav of Maoist Center said that the bill will address the demands of all people residing in Madhes. “The bill has addressed the feelings of Madhes. All parties should stand united in endorsing it,” he said.
Also taking part in the deliberations, Rukmini Chaudhary of Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch and Ganga Chaudhary of Tharuhat Tarai Democratic Party demanded that the bill be revised before endorsement by parliament. “We cannot accept the amendment bill as it still fails to address our demands,” said Chaudhary of the Tharuhat Party.
The amendment bill was registered in parliament on November 29 and tabled in the House on January 8 amid protests from nine opposition parties including UML. The opposition parties obstructed the House for over a month to protest the bill.