The government should start fresh talks with the main opposition and the agitating forces to find a solution about the constitution amendmentThe Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government on Tuesday registered a Bill in Parliament Secretariat seeking the second amendment to the new constitution on four key areas fiercely opposed by both the main opposition and agitating Madhes-centric parties. The Bill wants to remove six hill districts (Gulmi, Palpa, Arghakhanchi, Pyuthan, Rolpa and eastern part of Rukum) from the Pradesh-5 and include them in the Pradesh-4, make some changes in citizenship and representation in the Upper House on the basis of population, and form a language commission to include other languages as official ones along with Nepali. The amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament after the 15-day ultimatum served by the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front and Federal Alliance ended on that day. The Bill has also proposed forming a commission to settle the dispute regarding the status of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari in the east and Kailali and Kanchanpur in the west. This commission will be formed through an executive order which will submit its report to the government based on the previous report prepared by the now-defunct State Restructuring Commission. But, as soon as the Bill to make the second amendment to the constitution was tabled in Parliament the main opposition, CPN-UML, and constituents of the UDMF or FA for whom it was tabled to address their concerns have opposed it. The UML has said that it was a “design to divide the nation” while the agitating Madhesi parties have said the Bill failed to address their concerns. The UDMF has been pushing for carving out two Pradeshes in the Tarai-Madhes without having any of the hill districts included. The Tharus on the other hand want a Tarai Pradesh from Chitwan in the east and Kanchanpur in the west, a demand not addressed by the second amendment Bill. Shortly after the Bill was tabled in Parliament, street protests have erupted in Pradesh-5 and in the capital demanding the retention of six hilly districts in the Pradesh-5. The UML has also said that Bill has violated the right of the Pradesh Assembly whose approval is mandatory to review the Pradesh boundary. UML has already started obstructing the House proceedings opposing the contents on the Bill. In these circumstances, it is not clear for whom the Bill was tabled. One can naturally raise a question: What is the rationale of such a Bill when it has received flak from both the opposing sides. The Bill is unlikely to get a required two-thirds majority in the House. PM Dahal and the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the coalition, have claimed that the Bill was tabled after “serious consultations” with the agitating parties, which have now publicly repudiated such assertions. It shows that the fate of the Bill is hanging in the balance and very rationale of federalism in itself. What can be said at the moment is that the government should start fresh talks with the main opposition and the agitating forces to find a compromising point about the constitution amendment. All the sides must know the fact that the three tiers of elections cannot be held by January 2018, a constitutional deadline, without all the forces coming together for the same.
Safe practices While observing the World AIDS Day Nepal can take comfort from the fact that the number of people with HIV/AIDS is actually on the decline this decade. The decrease of those with the disease is believed to be 22 per cent. The main cause of being infected with this virus is unsafe sex. Those at high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS are entertainment workers, drug addicts, third genders as well as prison inmates and migrants. Fortunately, those with HIV live longer as now many of them have access to antiretroviral therapy. They are more at risk of diseases caused by lifestyles and aging and also non communicable diseases. Non communicable illnesses not related to HIV are now the main causes of mortality among those infected with HIV. Many of those with HIV/AIDS tend to hide their disease as they fear the stigma attached to it. Many of the infected do not seek medical care. Therefore, campaigns should be launched to raise awareness about the need to practice safe sex. Drug addicts vulnerable to HIV should be provided with new syringes. Others too at high risk should be encouraged to take adequate safety measures.