Madhes parties against powerful third-tier bodies

Published On: December 3, 2016 12:40 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Dec 3: Madhes-based parties, which have been rejecting the new constitution amendment bill and demanding its revision, have expressed serious dissatisfaction over the constitutional provisions that "make local units powerful."
The Madhes-based parties have been arguing that the local units should be placed under the provinces since the country has adopted federalism. The parties have expressed serious reservations over the constitutional provision that includes chairpersons and vice chairpersons of village councils and mayors and deputy mayors of municipal councils in the electoral college that picks 56 members of the National Assembly.

"The local units have been given more rights than what is viable and this is against the principles of federalism. The constitution has granted the local units unnecessary powers because the CPN-UML is against federalism," argued Keshav Jha. 

"The National Assembly should be a chamber that represents the provinces at the center and there is no sense in including the chairpersons and vice chairpersons of village councils and mayors and deputy mayors of municipal councils in the Electoral College," he added.

Jha said that the constitution has envisaged three tiers of government in the country but the Madhes-based parties want only two two-tier government and keep the local units under the provinces.

"We have also proposed to the prime minister to hold the election of local units on non-party basis. If the government becomes ready to review the amendment bill as per our demands, we will participate in the local elections," said Jha.

However, Jha said that the Madhes-based parties have equally serious reservations over the other three issues included in the amendment bill.

"Nawalparasi district has been divided between two provinces but the bill has spoken nothing about other districts -- Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur. If Nawalparasi can be split, why are they hesitating to do the same with the five districts?" questioned Jha.

"We are also open about forming a Federal Commission and settling provincial demarcation issues including finalizing the number of provinces through the commission," he added.

The amendment bill registered in parliament has proposed taking all hill districts out of Province 5 and this has ignited strong protests in the districts concerned.

Jha also claimed that the amendment proposal on citizenship provisions and language of official business are ambiguous and do not address their demands.

"Following the meeting with the prime minsiter Thursday, we are hopeful that the government would be ready to review the bill to accommodate our demands," said Jha.

The government had registered the constitution amendment bill in parliament on Tuesday.  

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