KATHMADNU, Nov 12: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has vowed to register the constitution amendment bill in Parliament by Tuesday at the latest even if the main opposition party CPN-UML is not ready to support the amendment.
“The amendment bill has been nearly finalized and it will be registered in Parliament by the end of Kartik (mid-November) no matter what,” the prime minister said at a press conference organized to highlight the achievements of his government in its first 100 days.
“No one should doubt that the government will register the bill even if there is no consensus with the opposition party.”
The prime minister's announcement comes at a time when the agitating Madhes-based political parties have been threatening to start fresh protests against the new Constitution if the government desn't register the amendment bill by mid-November. The prime minister had earlier committed himself to forwarding the bill to the legislature by that time.
The Madhesi parties have been insisting on changes to various provisions of the new Constitution, mainly those concerning provincial boundaries, citizenship and representation in the National Assembly.
The prime minister said that he had planned to register the bill in Parliament on November 10, but he decided to wait a few more days to secure the consent of the main opposition CPN-UML. He said the opposition's consent would have made the environment favorable not only for the endorsement of the amendment by a two-thirds majority in Parliament but also for holding the three sets of elections--local, provincial and federal.
He claimed that CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli had earlier become persuaded to support the bill but later, 'all of a sudden', the UML leaders started to oppose it.
“KP Oli himself had told me that he would support the amendment bill and he even asked me to go ahead with it. But suddenly, they changed their language and stood against the amendment proposal,” Dahal said.
According to him, they had discussed the contents of the proposed bill.
“I informed him about the plan to resolve the boundary disputes through some changes among the districts of some provinces, and to retain the Interim Constitution's provision on naturalized citizenship, as well as to explain this in the bill,” he said. Likewise, on the issue of representation in the National Assembly, Dahal had proposed to increase the ratio for population while determining the number of representatives from various provinces.
“After I explained my proposal on those issues, Oliji asked me to go ahead with the amendment process. Similarly, leaders both from the ruling and agitating parties had also given me their consent. So I felt that I could forge consensus over the matter and decided to move ahead,” said Dahal. “But suddenly, the UML leaders changed their language.”
Dahal said that he again talked to NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML Chairman Oli concerning the same matter. He now plans to move ahead with the amendment process.
“Deubaji and I will now review the entire situation and register the bill by Tuesday even if we don't get any support from the main opposition,” he said.
While making public the list of things done by his government, Dahal said his priority was to bring the new constitution up to full form and make it acceptable to all after making some changes through political consensus.