House begins deliberations on constitution amendment bill

Kathmandu, December 28

The Legislature Parliament today began discussion on the Bill on First Amendment of Constitution of Nepal, while lawmakers from agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front continued with their sloganeering in the well of the House.

Only two lawmakers got to speak today and the discussion on the bill will resume at 1:00pm tomorrow.

The bill was registered by previous Nepali Congress-led government on October 7 but it took nearly three months to begin discussion on it due to disagreement between ruling CPN-UML and agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front on it.

The UDMF is still opposing the bill, stating that it was not enough to address its concerns.

“Today we just initiated deliberations as decided earlier at the meeting of chief whips called by Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar.

As many lawmakers are interested to take part in the discussion, they will speak during tomorrow’s meeting,” said CPN-UML whip Gokul Gharti.

In case of positive outcome of the ongoing talks between the major political parties and agitating UDMF before tomorrow’s meeting, the proceedings on the bill would move ahead accordingly, otherwise, the Parliament would conclude preliminary discussions tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and begin second step providing 72 hours to lawmakers for registering their amendments to the bill, he said.

Taking part in the discussion on the bill, CPN-UML member Keshav Badal said, “Although the amendment of the new constitution was not necessary as the charter already has sufficient provisions relating to proportional inclusion and rights of marginalised communities from Preamble to the end, the amendment bill has been tabled on the bases of consensus among major parties. We should conclude it on the basis of consensus.”

Unified CPN-Maoist lawmaker Gauri Shankar Chaudhari said not only the population but also the geography should be made bases while delineating the electoral constituencies. “If we adopted the system of making the geography the only base on it, it will create many other problems,” he said.

He suggested to reach a package deal with UDMF, including the issue of provincial boundaries, while passing the constitution amendment bill.

Taking part in the discussions on Education (eighth amendment) Bill, lawmakers of opined for discouraging politicisation of the education sector by unions. They also suggested that the student and teacher unions should not be allowed to unnecessarily intervene in the education sector.

As student and teachers’ unions are affiliated to political parties they promote the interests of the concerned parties, hampering the quality of education, they said.

Lawmakers, including Gangalal Tuladhar of CPN-UML, Shyam Kumar Shrestha of UCPN-M and Gita Chhetri (Rana) of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic), said the political intervention in the education sector should be stopped and the teachers’ unions should be banned by allowing only one umbrella organisation instead of party-affiliated unions.