Singha Durbar

Singha Durbar. THT Online file photo
Kathmandu, August 20 The ruling CPN-Maoist Centre wants to forge consensus on issues of constitutional amendment before Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal visits India most probably in mid-September. CPN-MC leader Naryan Kaji Shrestha, who was today named the chief of the Committee to Assist the Government, said the government would hold formal and informal talks with all the stakeholders in an attempt to forge consensus on issues of constitutional amendment. The agitating Federal Alliance and the United Democratic Madhesi Front want the constitution amended to address their demands, particularly, revision of provincial boundaries, citizenship issues, representation in the Upper House, language and proportional inclusion. Shrestha said the government would soon hold dialogue with the UDMF first and then the Nepali Congress before holding dialogue with the CPN-UML. “We will try to know the NC’s bottomline after dialogue with the UDMF,” he added. The government, he added, would hold dialogue with the UML after preparing the preliminary concepts on the agitating forces’ demands. “We will probably hold dialogue with the UDMF again after talking with the UML,” Shrestha said, adding that his party would come up with its stance on the issues after talking with all the three major stakeholders. United Democratic Madhesi Front leaders said the government needed to form a taskforce to intensify dialogue with the stakeholders. Spokesperson for the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Sarvendranath Shukla said he expected the government to form a taskforce in a week so that the government could move the constitution amendment bill soon. Shukla said the taskforce would help forge consensus among the ruling parties and the UDMF first. “Once the government and the UDMF bridge their gap, it would be easy for the taskforce to hold dialogue on constitutional issues with the CPN-UML and other parties,” Shukla said. He said the UML, which was opposed to the idea of amending the constitution would eventually agree to amend the constitution to address the agitating forces’ demands. Agreement between key stakeholders on amendment to the constitution would be vital for holding the three levels of elections, Shukla argued. “As far as the two key issues of revision of provincial boundaries and representation in the Upper House are concerned, the ruling parties and the UDMF are close to an understanding. A taskforce needs to be created to give final shape to their understanding,” he added. Shukla said the three-point agreement signed between the Federal Alliance, the Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre was a step forward for the agreement stated that the constitution amendment bill would be tabled in Parliament. Shukla said the KP Sharma Oli-led government had not agreed on the UDMF’s proposal to table the boundary revision mechanism’s report as a constitution amendment bill in Parliament and that was the reason talks were stalled during Oli’s tenure. Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said the government needed to withdraw cases against UDMF leaders and cadres to expedite work on constitutional amendment. “We want the government to do works that are under its jurisdiction first such as withdrawal of cases,” Mahato said, adding that stakeholders might need to hold dialogue at two levels — taskforce and leadership levels.