PM seeks one week to address RJP-N’s concerns, including changes in charter

Kathmandu, December 25

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today asked for a week’s time to address Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal’s demands, including constitution amendment.

Oli told RJP-N presidium leaders at his residence that he would get back to them after holding consultation with the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders and the authorities concerned.

“We have raised our concerns on constitution amendment, swearing-in of jailed lawmaker Resham Chaudhary, withdrawal of court cases and release of prisoners,” RJP-N Presidium Coordinator Rajendra Mahato told THT. The RJP-N leaders have agreed to wait for a week.

“We have already waited for nine months, so we’ll wait for another week. If he addresses our concerns within a week, we’ll be more than happy. But if he fails to live up to his promise, then we’ll think of other measures,” Mahato said. Oli, according to Mahato, deems that RJP-N’s demands are “valid”. “You should not think I haven’t done anything to address your demands. I am making efforts,” Mahato quoted Oli as saying.

The RJP-N reminded the PM about the understanding that the party had reached with Oli nine months ago. At that time, RJP-N had agreed to support the government led by Oli and the PM had agreed to address all the demands of the Madhes-based party.

The latest reminder from the RJP-N comes a day ahead of the commencement of the winter session of Parliament, where Oli’s NCP commands two-thirds majority.

“We are still supporting the government hoping the PM will address our demands. Otherwise, there is no reason to support the government,” RJP-N leader Keshav Jha told THT.

The RJP-N has been demanding that mother tongues of Madhes be recognised as official language and women who marry Nepali citizens be given citizenship by descent. The RJP-N has also been saying children of a couple, one of whom is Nepali, should be granted citizenship by descent. “Although the law allows authorities to do so, it has not been enforced,” said Jha.

The RJP-N has also demanded that representation in the National Assembly be on the basis of population, as against the existing practice of sending eight lawmakers from each province, including women, Dalits and differently-abled people. The party has also demanded that the provision of allowing local level chiefs and deputy chiefs to participate in National Assembly election be scrapped. “Provincial assembly should work as an electoral college for the National Assembly election,” Jha said.

The RJP-N wants that the government enforce a recommendation of the State Restructuring Commission led by Madan Pariyar, which states that two provinces in Madhes should not include hilly districts. The demarcation of a province, according to the constitution, can only be changed if two-thirds of federal parliamentarians endorse the decision. But before the proposal is sent to the federal Parliament, majority of provincial assembly members should approve the decision to change the boundaries of provinces. “The provision of getting endorsement from provincial assembly members should be scrapped. Federal Parliament should have the sole authority to change the boundaries of provinces,” Jha said.

The RJP-N has also raised issues related to inclusiveness in the bureaucracy, police and courts.