Constitution amendment process slowed down

Kathmandu, December 29

Had there been consensus among the three major parties and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front on how to resolve the Tarai crisis, the ongoing constitution amendment process would have moved at a normal pace.

But since a breakthrough is yet to be reached to end the UDMF agitation, deliberations on the Bill on First Amendment of Constitution have been slowed down in the hope that the parties would forge a consensus soon.

Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar allowed only two lawmakers to speak on the first day of discussion on the amendment bill that began yesterday.

Today 10 lawmakers were allowed to speak and the next meeting of the Parliament would be held on Thursday.

Had there been an urgency to complete the discussion, she could have held the meeting from morning to late evening, as had been done in the past.

However, she scheduled the Parliament meeting at 1:00pm and other bills tabled by the government were discussed.

She allocated the Special Hour for lawmakers from each political party to speak on current issues, deliberately slowing down discussion on amendment bill, as the major parties and the UDMF are expecting a breakthrough to end stalemate on protracted blockade.

“The Speaker has slowed down the proceedings of the constitution amendment without announcing it officially.

It is because once the process moves to the second step allocating time for registering amendment proposal on the bill chances of incorporating the agitating UDMF in the amendment may vanish.

She is giving time to the parties to arrive at breakthrough within a few days,” said a close aide of the Speaker.

Although the bill was registered on October 7 by the previous Nepali Congress-led government, the discussions on the bill could begin only yesterday due to dispute among the parties on the bill.

Taking part in today’s discussions on the amendment bill, almost all speakers from major parties, including NC, CPN-UML and Unified CPN-Maoist, said the bill should be endorsed after maximum possible consensus.

On the issue of boundaries of federal units, many of them however, defended the seven-province model.

“The demarcation of the boundaries does not prevent Madhesi communities from enjoying their rights and their empowerment.

I request the agitating parties to end their agitation,” said NC lawmaker Prakash Sharan Mahat.

Sher Bahadur Tamang of CPN-UML said both geography and population should form an equal basis while demarcating the electoral constituencies.

Nisha Kumari Sah of UCPN-M suggested to solve the problem of boundaries and ensure to incorporate in the new constitution along with the proposed amendment.

Yogendra Chaudhari of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) suggested that the issue of boundaries should be resolved together with the proposed amendment. NC’s Ramhari Khatiwada said the population should not be made the major basis of constituency delineation.

Rewati Raman Bhandari of UML said the Madhesi and Tharu communities of Sunsari and Morang districts do not want to be included in Province No 2 as demanded by agitating parties and they should drop their demand.

Speaking in the Special Hour, NC’s Nabindra Raj Joshi criticised the government for expanding the Cabinet and splitting ministries at a time when the earthquake affected people were dying due to cold and lack of shelter.

UCPN-M lawmaker Shyam Kumar Shrestha said 13 people died yesterday in Dolakha due to cold but the government was doing little to prevent such deaths.