Kathmandu, December 25

Senior leaders of the Nepali Congress today urged the party leadership to pressure the government to announce poll dates and conduct local bodies’ elections within two months “at any cost” to ensure implementation of new constitution.

Some suggested that the party leadership should either forge consensus on the contents of constitution amendment bill at the earliest or go for polls even if the amendment process had to be put on hold for the time being.

At the meeting of the party’s office bearers, former office bearers and some influential leaders held at the party’s parliamentary party office in Singha Durbar, the leaders opined that announcement of poll dates would put pressure on the main opposition party, CPN-UML, and agitating Madhes-based parties to go for polls by softening their stances on constitution amendment.

“We dwelt on holding local bodies’ polls within two months at any cost. If that’s not possible under a new structure, polls should be held under the existing structure. Our party president will hold talks with CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre and other parties.

We think that announcement of poll dates will put pressure on the UML to clear the path for polls,” said NC General Secretary Shashanka Koirala after the meeting.

Senior NC leader Ramchandra Paudel said local bodies’ polls should be held by forging national consensus. “Poll dates should be announced at the earliest and talks should be held to end obstruction of the House,” Paudel said.

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba told the meeting that consensus was not possible, as the UML was adamant on not allowing the bill to proceed in the Parliament, while the Madhes-based parties wanted changes in the bill before it was tabled, according to NC Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha.

“We focused our discussion on how to make the local polls possible at the earliest. The Congress would intensify talks with other parties to clear the way for polls,” Shrestha said.

Central Working Committee member Chandra Bhandari said, “The leaders opined that the party should go for local polls at any cost. It means the party should be ready to put the constitution amendment process on hold for clearing the way for the polls if necessary.”

Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Ram Sharan Mahat, Mahesh Acharya and Minendra Rijal suggested that the party leadership should intensify talks with the agitating parties to clear the way for local polls, according to Bhandari.

The meeting will resume tomorrow morning.

Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar has called a meeting of seven major parties tomorrow afternoon to discuss how to clear the House obstruction.

The CPN-UML has been obstructing the House since the government registered the bill at the Parliament Secretariat on November 29 to address the concerns of Madhes-based parties.

It claims that the amendment was not necessary, as people of Province 5 were against splitting the province as proposed in the bill.

The UML itself is against splitting Province 5.