Some NC leaders want local polls after amending statute

Kathmandu, March 11

Some lawmakers and Nepali Congress  leaders representing Madhes told the party’s top leaders the NC should root for holding local polls only after ensuring passage of the constitution amendment bill.

A source  who refused to be quoted said Mahesh Acharya, Anand Prasad Dhungana, Farmullah Mansoor, Mahendra Yadav, Ram Krishna Yadav and Kiran Yadav favoured passage of the constitution amendment bill before local polls. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi also supported this view, said the source.

Mansoor informed THT that NC leaders from Madhes told the meeting the constitution amendment bill should be passed to ensure participation of all forces in all the regions so as to broaden the acceptance of the constitution.

According to the source, those leaders who said constitution amendment bill should be passed before local polls argued that Madhesi people had faith the NC would ensure passage of the constitution amendment bill before local polls, but their faith had eroded after police firing in Saptari.

According to the source, Nidhi told the meeting that as per the three-point agreement signed between the NC, the CPN-MC and the Federal alliance, the signatories had committed to holding the polls after amending the constitution.

Nidhi informed the meeting that the ruling parties had told the United Democratic Madhesi Front they wanted to announce poll dates, but they would pass the constitution amendment bill before the

local polls because three months were needed for poll preparations.

Leaders representing Madhes also suggested that the party leadership make efforts to convince the UDMF not to withdraw support to the incumbent coalition government.

After listening to party leaders’ views, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba spoke to Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chair Mahantha Thakur over phone and fixed a meeting for tomorrow.

According to the source, NC leaders and lawmakers also suggested to Deuba that he win the confidence of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chair Kamal Thapa and make him agree to pass the constitution amendment bill.

Thapa, who was inducted in the Cabinet on Thursday, had gone on record saying his party did not favour passing the constitution amendment bill in its current form. The NC source said that the party should first try to win RPP’s confidence regarding the constitution amendment bill and then try to induct other parties in the government, particularly the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic, to muster two-thirds majority required for passage of the bill. NC lawmaker Ram Krishna Yadav told THT the NC would try to convince the UDMF not to sever ties with the government.

Today’s meeting was attended by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and other top leaders of the party, including Ramchandra Paudel.

In the wake of police firing in Saptari on March 6 that resulted in the death of four protesters, the UDMF had served the government  one-week ultimatum  to  pass the constitution amendment bill and rescind the decision to hold polls on May 14, failing which, it would withdraw support to the government.

The UDMF and the FA had extended outside support to the government after a three-point agreement was signed in August between the FA, the NC and the CPN-MC.

NC leaders said they would make all efforts to ensure passage of the bill before local polls, according to Yadav.