Tabling of Constitution Amendment Bill foiled

Kathmandu, December 6

The government’s plan to table the Constitution Amendment Bill that was registered on October 7 by the previous Nepali Congress-led government was foiled today by agitating Madhes-based parties who obstructed the proceedings of the Legislature-Parliament.

As soon as Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar announced the beginning of today’s proceedings and provided time to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa to speak, the members of Parliament representing the United Democratic Madhesi Front went to the well of the House and chanted slogans demanding that all their concerns be addressed.

They sought to create conducive environment for talks and said the proposed amendment bill did not address 11-point demand put forth by them.

Members of the Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party also stood up and shouted slogans.

DPM Thapa was not present in the House when Gharti Magar called his name thrice. As the meeting was more than two hours behind schedule, Thapa had left the Parliament premises.

Some Nepali Congress and CPN-UML lawmakers were expressing objection for not being allowed to speak on issues of national importance.

NC’s Ram Hari Khatiwada objected to the Speaker’s decision to invite a minister who was not present in the House to speak.

UML’s Rajendra Pande wondered why they were being prevented from discussing the issue of blockade when it was being dwelt on in the Indian Parliament.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Prasad Kharel was scheduled to table the Constitution Amendment Bill in accordance with today’s business schedule of the Parliament.

Since the sloganeering of agitating parties went on, the Speaker postponed the House meeting until 11:00am tomorrow.

The bill has been stuck at the Parliament for two months, as the CPN-UML-led government had stated that it would be tabled only after there was an agreement with agitating Madhes-based parties.

However, the government was scheduled to table the same bill today after a three-point agreement among the three major parties – NC, UML and UCPN-M – reached on December 4.

The first amendment bill seeks to address proportional inclusion and making population the major basis while delineating the electoral constituencies, which are also two of the major demands of Madhesi and indigenous communities.

The agitating parties have also been demanding to alter the boundaries of federal units to carve out two provinces in the Tarai-Madhes region. The amendment bill, however, does not include the boundary issue.

The three major parties have said that the article on federal units could be amended only after a political committee resolves the issue within three months.

The bill seeks amendment to five provisions of Article 42, Article 84 and Article 286 to address two of the concerns of the agitating parties.

Once the proposed bill is passed, it will ensure the participation of defined underprivileged groups in state organs as per the principle of proportional inclusion in Right to Social Justice of Article 42 under the fundamental rights.

This is the demand mainly raised by the indigenous communities.

Also the Tarai-Madhes region will be allotted nearly 50 per cent of 165 electoral constituencies with the passage of the bill.