KATHMANDU, Feb 27: Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Chairman Upendra Yadav has declined an offer from the ruling alliance to join the government citing the need of prior commitment, in writing, to amend the constitution.
In a meeting held at the prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar on Monday, Prime Minister KP Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) had given verbal assurances to revise the statute and requested Yadav to take part in the cabinet expansion. The meeting ended inconclusively after Yadav remained resolute demanding a written commitment.
“The government should first come forward with a clear view on constitution amendment. Our party will take an appropriate decision accordingly,” Yadav said, without divulging the details of the talks.
FSFN, the fifth largest party in parliament, has, at least technically, accepted the statue but has long maintained that some provisions of the constitution have to be revised for wider acceptability.
According to FSFN leaders briefed on the meeting, Oli and Dahal had expressed readiness to revise the constitution without specifying what particular provision would be amended.
During a meeting with second-rung leaders of the left alliance on Wednesday, FSFN interlocutors had hinted at joining the government if a federal commission is formed.
“Our biggest concern is with Article 274 of the constitution. It should be amended so as to redraw the federal boundaries based on the need,” said FSFN Co Chair Rajendra Shrestha, adding that the existing provisions make it difficult to redraw the boundaries. The FSFN has been demanding increase in number of federal provinces.
The UML and CPN (Maoist Center), despite holding a nearly two-thirds majority in the federal parliament, appear eager to bring the Madhesi parties on board the government hoping for political stability. UML also see this as an opportunity to earn back goodwill of the Madhesi constituents angered by anti-Madhesi rhetoric of some party leaders.
But it remains unclear to what extent the ruling alliance will compromise on the constitution revision as many leaders fear that such a major change in the statute would draw backlash from its core constituents.
Left alliance leaders said that Oli and Dahal are positive about making minor changes in the constitution but ruled out the possibility of revision in federal boundaries. They said that there could be written agreement on forming a federal commission for “a limited time span with limited jurisdiction”.
But FSFN leaders said that they cannot agree on anything less than a permanent commission with some changes pertaining to the federal boundaries.
“Constitution amendment is our agenda. The party may have to pay a big price if we join the government without an agreement on amendment,” said an FSFN leader.