Govt told not to wait indefinitely for CPN-UML support

Kathmandu, September 19

Madhesi forces, who want the prime minister to table the constitution amendment bill in the Parliament as soon as possible, are glad that he cancelled his New York trip to focus on constitutional issues.

They, however, say that PM’s decision will become meaningful only if he is able to table the bill soon.

Parliamentary party leader of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Ashok Kumar Rai said the government should table the bill soon after forging consensus with the agitating forces. “We cannot accept the government’s argument that it should wait till the UML comes on board,” Rai said.

He added that once the government tabled the bill, all forces, including the agitating forces, would make efforts to persuade the UML to support the bill. “The government’s focus is not at the right place.

It should try to forge consensus with the signatories of the three-point deal and it should table the bill accordingly,” he argued. Co-Chair of Sadbhawana Party Laxman Lal Karna said, “We are not satisfied with the government’s efforts to amend the constitution or else we would not have marked black day today.”

Tarai Madhes Democratic Party leader Sarvendranath Shukla, however, said the government needed to move the bill soon but it should also be mindful that such efforts should not lead to the failure of the bill.

“I have time and again warned the ruling parties’ leaders that if the constitution cannot be amended and elections cannot be held, everybody will be a loser,” he added.

He said prime minister’s decision to cancel his New York visit reflected seriousness on his part but he needed to do more to bring the CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal on board. “The UML may not agree on the constitutional amendment issues given UML Chair KP Sharma Oli’s continued opposition to the idea, but the prime minister should still consult other top UML leaders.

I hope other key leaders of the UML are in favour of resolving the issues, including revision of the boundaries,” he said and added that the government should, however, table the bill with the consent of the ruling parties and the UDMF.

Prime Minister’s Press Adviser Chakrapani Khanal said the PM was making efforts to forge minimum understanding with the opposition parties, particularly the CPN-UML, before discussing constitutional issues with the FA and UDMF.

Khanal said the PM was of the view that he should make efforts to forge consensus with the opposition parties before the bill was tabled, as forging consensus after the bill was tabled might be risky, as it would split opinions for and against the bills. “The PM’s efforts will be to find a common ground,” Khanal added.

When asked what the PM would do if the CPN-UML continued to oppose the ruling parties’ argument in favour of amending the constitution, Khanal said, “At this stage I can only tell you that the PM wants to hold sincere dialogue with all the forces, including the principal opposition.

If I tell you every option that the PM might use later that could mar the atmosphere for forging consensus.”

The agitating forces want the constitution to be amended to address issues of citizenship, proportional representation, representation in the Parliament and revision of the provincial boundaries.