Oli says ready to amend constitution

Kathmandu, January 26

CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli today talked of addressing Madhesis’ concerns without offering anything concrete.

Oli, who fiercely opposed constitution amendment in the past, said in Pokhara that he was ready to amend the constitution but Madhesi forces were skirting the issue because they feared that if the constitution was amended, they would run out of election slogans. He, however, added that he would not support any attempt to divide hills and Madhes.

CPN-UML leader Subas Chandra Nembang tried to put his party chair’s remarks in context. He told THT: “We  opposed the constitution amendment bill in the past because the constitution had not been implemented  and the provincial assemblies had not been formed then. Situation has changed. We are saying that constitution can be amended on the basis of necessity and rationale,” he added.

When asked to comment on Oli’s remarks, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal leader Rajendra Mahato said if the CPN-UML was committed to amending the constitution to address Madhesis’ issues, then it should move a motion in the Parliament and make efforts to pass the motion.

“The Nepali Congress and the CPN-MC are in favour of constitution amendment but if the UML is also in its favour then it should table a bill in the Parliament,” he said. “We do not have the numbers to amend the constitution but since the UML is the largest party, it can take the lead to pass the bill,” Mahato added.

He said Madhesi parties would never skirt issues related to constitution amendment.

“On the contrary, UML had blocked efforts to amend the constitution,” he added.

Mahato said Madhesi parties’ vote would help muster two-thirds majority in the Parliament and if the UML moved a constitution amendment bill Madhesi parties would surely support it.

“The UML says one thing but does another. We do not want to run away. Neither do we want to be cheated,” Mahato said. He added that they tried to tie up with the left alliance for the National Assembly election but constitution amendment was the stumbling block.

UML leaders said they would have to get things endorsed by their party, Mahato told THT. He said UML was only making empty promises.

Mahato said if the UML was ready to amend the constitution, Madhesi parties would support the effort but they might not join the government.

On the other hand, CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal said in Kathmandu today that he wanted to address Madhesis’ concerns peacefully and within the confines of the constitution.

CPN-MC leader Matrika Prasad Yadav said his party would hold discussion with Oli on amending the constitution. “Even Oli has not negated the need for amending the constitution,” he said and added that Madhesi parties missed a chance when they rejected the left alliance’s offer to join hands for the National Assembly election.

“Had the Madhesi parties forged an electoral alliance with us, they could have got one more NA seat in Province 2 and the left alliance could have committed to amending the constitution,” Yadav added.