KATHMANDU, March 2: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has clearly told the agitating Madhes-based political parties that it has now become impossible to garner a two-thirds majority in parliament for the constitution amendment bill.
He urged the agitating parties to agree to one of two options: put the bill on hold until the local elections are held on May 14, or to put the bill to a vote in the House.
The prime minister also said that in case of the latter option, they have to be ready to go for local elections even if the amendment bill does not get endorsed due to lack of a two-thirds majority in the House.
However, the agitating parties rejected the prime minister’s proposal outright.
“We at the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) had already decided not to participate in elections without first effecting amendments in the constitution. As the prime minister only repeated the same request to us to join elections, we informed him that we rejected his proposal outright,” Rajkishor Yadav, chairman of Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Republic (MPRF-R), told Republica.
The prime minister floated the proposal at a meeting he convened at his official residence at Baluwatar on Wednesday. Leaders from the ruling Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center), Rastriya Prajatantra Party and MPRF-Democratic and from constituent parties of the agitating UDMF were present on the occasion.
The prime minister proposed that a political commitment to amend the constitution after the local elections can be made in advance to ensure their demands are addressed in the changed context.
However, Chairman of Sadbhavana Party Rajendra Mahato told Republica,“If these political forces can become ready to amend the constitution after the elections, why are they not ready for the same right now?” He further said, “If the major parties become ready to amend the constitution at present, it would pave the way for us to join elections. Otherwise, they would be shutting the doors to our joining the elections.”
When the prime minister asked if they would be ready to join elections in case the bill was rejected by the House, the Madhesi leaders said such a scenario wouldn’t help resolve the problems in Tarai-Madhes. “Such a scenario would only encourage extremist forces and eventually further worsen the situation,” argued Mahato.
RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa then floated a third option of endorsing all other amendment provisions except changes in the provincial boundaries.
“That will be a move backward because we have demanded that the amendment bill should be endorsed with further improvements,” Mahato said.