KATHMANDU, May 12: CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal has strictly instructed the party lawmakers to abide by the party decisions and instructions while voting on issues of the constitution in the Constituent Assembly and warned them of stringent disciplinary actions if they breached the party´s directives.
Khanal while issuing directives to CPN-UML lawmakers at the party´s parliamentary party meeting on Friday morning came down heavily on members lobbying for ethnicity-based federalism.
"UML lawmakers involved in campaigns that are against the party´s stated policies and decisions will be subjected to disciplinary actions. If needed, the party will not hesitate to take harsh decision and no member will be spared," a lawmaker present at the meeting quoted Khanal as saying.
Taking strong exception to some UML lawmakers´ involvement in the campaign for identity-based federalism, Khanal presented himself quite aggressively at the meeting. "The harsh language our party chairman used at the meeting is quite unusual," the lawmaker said. "It seemed that he was annoyed by some of our friends´ activities in favor of caste-based federalism," said a lawmaker.
He issued clear instructions to UML lawmakers to cast votes for mixed-ethnic model of federal system in which provinces will be named after multicultural identity and not on the identity of a single caste.
He informed that the UML standing committee´s latest decision is to stand for eight-province model based on common identity of mixed identities such as Gandaki-Tamuwan-Magarat and not singular identity such as Tamuwan or Magarat.
Khanal said the party will take initiatives to incorporate the eight-province model into the list of questions to be voted on in the CA. If the new provisions are not incorporated into the list and the voting is conducted only on the provisions proposed by the CA thematic committees, the UML will vote for the six-province model on federalism. The majority of the CA´s state restructuring committee passed the Maoist-proposed 14-province model while the NC-proposed six-province model has been incorporated as a proposal voted by the minority in the thematic committee.
"The chairman has clearly instructed us to vote for eight province if it is included in the list. If not, we will vote for six province but we are not allowed to vote for 14-province model or any other ethnicity-based federal model," said UML´s Krishna Prasad Sapkota.
On system of governance, Khanal directed the party lawmakers to stand for the UML´s official proposal in which the directly-elected prime minister will be the chief executive head of the government and the parliament-elected president will be ceremonial head of the state.
The chairman told the lawmakers that the UML will not vote for the directly-elected executive president at any cost.
Khanal expressed his anger at the party´s parliamentary party meeting a day after a group of UML lawmakers allied with leaders from Madhes-based political parties, Maoists and other caste-based groups vowing to fight for ethnicity-based federalism.
He took strong exception to the statement signed by some UML lawmakers including Prithivi Subba Gurung, Kiran Gurung, Ranadhwoj Limbu, Dal Bahadur Rana and Bhagawati Chaudhary along with Maoist and Madhesh-based parties on Thursday. They vowed to fight for delineating independent provinces based on singular identities such as Limbuwan, Khumbuwan, Magarat, Tamuwan.
"I have a strong objection against the act of UML lawmakers joining such a movement and expressing their commitment in writing to fight for caste-based federalism even as we have rejected it. I direct the UML party rank and file to shun such activities otherwise the party will obviously take a disciplinary action against those involved in such activities," a leader quoted him as saying.
According to the leader, Khanal was seriously annoyed because the UML lawmakers joined hands with the Maoists and Madhes-based political parties with whom the UML has had a bitter relationship in national politics. "Had there been alliance with some social groups, it may have been tolerable for the chairman," said the leader.