Constitution amendment process back to square one

Published On: April 13, 2017 01:56 AM NPT

 Govt bid to bring Madhesi parties on board the election uncertain 

KATHMANDU, April 12: With the main opposition CPN-UML remaining opposed to it and the agitating Madhes-based political parties not owning up it fully, the government's initiative to bring the Madhesi parties on board the election process through a fresh 11-point constitution amendment bill has become uncertain.

The government is almost certain not to garner the required two-thirds majority votes in favor of the fresh amendment bill in parliament unless it receives support from the UML-led opposition alliance. The opposition alliance has enough numerical strength in parliament to foil the amendment bill. 
On Tuesday, the government withdrew a constitution amendment bill from the parliament five months after it was tabled in the House as it failed to garner a two-thirds majority. 

Although the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal has introduced the new bill apparently to appease the agitating parties, this failed to impress the Madhes-based parties. Prime Minister Dahal faces a setback as the alliance of the agitating parties, United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on Wednesday announced to boycott the local polls. 

With the local polls just about a month away, the government doesn't have much time to bring the agitating parties on board the poll process. “The issue of bringing the agitating parties on board the election process by amending the constitution is now back to square and there is not enough time now to hammer out political consensus,” political analyst Bishnu Sapkota told Republica.  
Sapkota said that the government made a false claim about Madhesi parties and UML's support to the new amendment bill.

While expressing hope that the UDMF will eventually take part in the election process, Minister for Law, Ajay Shankar Nayak said the government is surprised by the unexpected decision of the agitating parties of not owing up the new amendment bill. “We are taken aback by the decision of the UDMF. However, the government is still hopeful of a political consensus,” said Nayak. 
Nayak said that the amendment bill can be endorsed through parliament through the fast-track process if there is a political consensus among major parties. 

Political analyst Nilamber Acharya, who is also a former minister, said that he doesn't see the chance of the new amendment bill being passed by parliament before the local polls. “I don't see any chance of the bill being endorsed by parliament as both UML and UDMF are not in its favor. The government shouldn't push ahead with the amendment bill if the agitating parties do not own it up,” said Acharya. 

Sapkota argued that the lack of political will and no internal preparations by the agitating parties are also important reasons behind the UDMF's decision to boycott the election. “The decision of the Madhes-based parties not to take part in the poll even after the registration of the new amendment bill also raises questions about their political will,” he said. 

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