Madhes-based parties divided on amendment

Published On: November 23, 2016 09:10 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

FSFN dissatisfied, others inclined to support
KATHMANDU, Nov 23: Agitating Madhes-based parties, which have been demanding a constitutional amendment, have expressed differing views on the decision of the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) and Nepali Congress to register an amendment bill in Parliament within a few days to address at least four of the concerns of the agitating parties.

Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) led by Upendra Yadav has said that it cannot support the amendment bill if it is registered without addressing all the demands of the Federal Alliance in a package and without reaching prior agreement with the agitating parties.

However, others Madhes-based parties in the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) are in a mood to support the amendment bill even if it does not address all their demands.

The government has prepared a draft bill to amend four provisions of the constitution relating to provincial boundaries, marital naturalized citizenship, representation in the national assembly and the language of official business.

 "We know that the amendment bill as discussed by the government so far would be incomplete but we cannot stand against it as at least four of our concerns are being addressed. We'll grab whatever we can get now and struggle for more in future," said Manish Suman, general secretary of Sadbhavana Party.

However, Suman said that the government has yet to discuss the amendment bill with the agitating parties.

Tarai Madhes Socialist Party General Secretary Keshav Jha also said that the agitating Madhes-based parties are in a mood to support the amendment proposal even if it addresses only four of their concerns.

But FSFN General Secretary Ram Sahaya Yadav said his party would not support the amendment bill if it is registered without the consent of the Federal Alliance and without addressing all the demands.

"The government has not yet consulted us. On the basis of what leaders have been saying and what media has been reporting, the amendment bill would not be able to catch the spirit of the three-point agreement reached between the Maoist Center, NC and the agitating parties," said Yadav.

"If the leaders and the media are to be believed, the amendment bill would address our concerns over provincial delineations but nothing is clear yet how our concerns over the disputed districts of Kailali, Kanchanpur, Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari would be addressed," he added.

Yadav reiterated that his party could not support the amendment bill unless all the demands are addressed and has the consent of the agitating parties.

However, TMSP leader Jha claimed that the agitating Madhes-based parties will develop a common understanding and support the amendment bill once it is registered and discussed with them by the government.

"I hope not only all Madhes-based parties but also the main opposition CPN-UML will support the amendment bill once it is registered in Parliament.

Maoist Center and NC on Monday decided to register the constitution amendment bill in Parliament within a few days although the main opposition UML has threatened to protest the proposed amendments.

Madhes-based leaders opined that UML will be forced to support the proposed amendments since there is a possibility within Parliament of a two-third majority for the amendment despite UML opposition.

"We hope UML will come on board during the amendment process but if they don't, we'll also play the numbers game as they did while promulgating the constitution," said Suman.

The unification of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) on Monday and the decision of the unified party to join the ruling coalition have increased the possibility of garnering the two-third majority required for a constitutional amendment.

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