Govt unlikely to table statute amendment bill before Dashain

Kathmandu, September 23

Although the ruling parties’ leaders have repeatedly said they would table a constitution amendment bill soon to address the demands of agitating forces, it is not certain whether they can table the bill in the Parliament before Dashain vacation.

Prime Minister’s Political Adviser Chakrapani Khanal said the stakeholders were of the view that the bill should be tabled in the House once the major forces had agreed on its contents. “There is no fixed policy on this issue,” Khanal told The Himalayan Times when asked if there was any self imposed deadline that the government would follow to table the constitution amendment bill.

“We will have to muster two thirds majority to ensure passage of the bill and for that we need to hold dialogue with all the major stakeholders,” Khanal said. He added that the government had not held dialogue with all the stakeholders yet.

He said the PM had held talks with the ruling parties and the agitating forces and narrowed down differences on key constitutional issues but both the forces had not reached an agreement on any of the key issues yet.

He said revision of the provincial boundaries was the key issue for the agitating forces. “The PM was of the view that if stakeholders could agree to carve out two provinces in Madhes, it could address a key demand of the agitating forces,” he added.

Khanal said he did not believe that there would be major changes on the issue of citizenship.

“As far as language issue is concerned, stakeholders have agreed to accept the recommendation of the newly formed Language Commission,” he added. Agitating forces have demanded that the country should adopt multi-lingual policy recognising more than one language as language of communication.

Khanal said some stakeholders had brought a proposal to create a province comprising Tarai districts from Nawalparasi to Bardiya and settling the issue of five Tarai districts - Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur - through a commission.

“The government has its own views on key constitutional issues but it is not saying anything now because it fears that other parties will toe their official line and that could complicate the process of finding a common ground on the constitutional issues,” Khanal added.

A top government source, who is involved in inter-party talks, said the government was planning to move the constitution amendment bill soon but not before Dashain.

Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said he told the PM two days ago that first the government or the ruling parties should come up with their formal proposal on the 11-point and 26-point demands submitted by the United Democratic Madhesi Front and the Federal Alliance, respectively.

“Once we get the government’s proposal we will discuss it with other constituents of UDMF and respond to the government,” he added.

Agitating forces say that the ruling parties should not wait indefinitely for the CPN-UML to agree on the contents of the constitutional amendment bill.