KATHMANDU, July 19: Top leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) on Wednesday urged the government to ensure the required support to endorse the constitution amendment bill before pushing it through the parliament.
The leaders said this after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba offered to immediately put the constitution amendment bill to a vote without guaranteeing its endorsement.
In a three-party meeting held at the prime minister's residence on Wednesday, Prime Minister Deuba said that the government was ready to take forward the bill. But he gave no clear assurance that the bill would be endorsed by parliament.
“I am sincerely trying to seek required support to pass the bill. But there is still no guarantee that the bill will be endorsed. If RJPN agrees to go to polls irrespective of the bill's progress, I am ready to take the bill to a vote,” a leader present at the meeting quoted Deuba as saying.
In response, RJPN leaders suggested to the government not to forward the bill without guaranteeing two-thirds support for the bill. RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato said that the bill should be endorsed at any cost.
“It's pointless to put the bill to vote unless there is enough support. The government should guarantee that the bill will be endorsed before tabling it in parliament,” RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato said.
During the meeting, RJPN leaders asked government to fulfill their apolitical demands while making simultaneous efforts to bring smaller parties behind the bill. While many of RJPN's non political demands have been addressed, the government has not yet withdrawn criminal cases against RJPN cadres arrested during the protest.
“We understand that there is not enough support for amendment. But what is stopping the government from withdrawing criminal cases and releasing those arrested during the Madhes movement? This show that the government is not sincere toward our demands,” Mahantha Thakur told NC and CPN (Maoist Center) leaders.
Mahato said that the government has expressed its commitment to address all non-political demands in the next few days. He said the statute should be revised at any cost before going to the polls. The amendment bill, registered in parliament in April, seeks to curtail the rights and jurisdictions of the chief and deputy chief of municipalities and rural municipalities, increase representation of state assemblies in the upper house in proportion of population and make key changes to the provisions relating to citizenship and language.
Despite its willingness to amend the constitution, the government still appears short of some three dozen votes to pass the bill.
NC leader NP Saud on Tuesday said that the government was making every effort to canvass support from the fringe parties.
“If some fringe parties support it, it would not be difficult to pass the bill. But there is no guarantee that all the parties that have promised to support the bill will vote. That's our concern,” said Saud.