KATHMANDU, August 9: The recent split of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has thwarted the government's plan to put the constitution amendment bill to a vote in parliament before the third phase of the local elections scheduled for the third week of September.
Senior leaders of the ruling parties said they planned to put the statute amendment bill to vote in parliament had the undivided RPP that commanded a total 37 votes backed the statute amendment bill. "We would then have run short of only four to five votes," said a leader, asking not to be named.
Ruling parties had held a series of meetings including with the Nepal Family Party and some fringe leftist parties including the CPN-ML in an attempt to garner the requisite two-thirds majority votes in favor of the amendment bill. "We were already close to garnering the two-thirds majority votes in favor of the amendment bill. The split of the RPP has now made it almost impossible to push the amendment bill forward," he further said.
The government has now a total 359 votes in its favor. Altogether 396 votes are required to endorse the amendment bill.
Newly-formed Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Democratic)-led by Pashupati SJB Rana has claimed to have secured support of 22 of the 37 RPP lawmakers. "Should RPP (D) decide to vote in favor of the amendment, there are chances that RPP-led by Kamal Thapa won't extend support to the bill. The acrimonious relation between the two parties has now blighted the prospect of putting the amendment bill to vote," a leader of a ruling party said.
The split of the RPP comes in the wake of RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa failing to unite the party in favor of the constitution amendment bill. In May, the then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who had expected support of the Nepal Family Party and the CPN-ML get the amendment bill endorsed, was forced to defer a House meeting after 10 RPP lawmakers went out of contact ignoring their party's whip.
The third phase of the local election in Province 2 is slated for September 18. Nepali Congress (NC) government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba planned to put the amendment bill to vote as per an agreement reached between the ruling parties and the agitating Rastriya Janata Party Nepal.
There is also mounting pressure on Prime Minister Deuba from within the party to ensure amendment before the polls, as many in the party believe that this could help NC perform better in the third phase of the local elections. The main opposition party, CPN-UML, has won the chief positions in 50 more local units than the NC.
NC chief whip Chinkaji Shrestha said it is not wise to push forward the amendment bill without ensuring requisite two-thirds majority votes in parliament.