KATHMANDU, Nov 24: Even as the top leadership of the Nepali Congress (NC) has hinted at pushing ahead with the constitution amendment proposal including revision of the provincial delineations, without support from the main opposition CPN-UML, an overwhelming majority of NC lawmakers appear clearly unhappy.
Arguing that the amendment proposal reportedly supported by the NC top leadership was not even discussed within the party, lawmakers threatened to stage stringent protests and even boycott the voting on the amendment proposal if the government decided to bring the amendment forcibly.
Besides proposing amendment to the provisions on citizenship, official language and representation in the national assembly, the government has proposed separating various hill districts including Pyuthan, Rolpa and Rukum from Province 5 in order to make this province stretch from Nawalparasi to Bardiya. Likewise, the amendment proposal seeks to take out Palpa, Arghakhanchi, Gulmi and Baglung from Province 5 and include them in Province 6.
Why are our leaders talking about amendment even as there absolutely is no problem with the existing demarcation of Province 5? A large number of people are likely to be killed soon after the demarcation is manipulated. Who will take responsibility for such eventualities?"
-- Chandra Bhandari, NC lawmaker from Gulmi
NC lawmaker Dhan Raj Gurung said it is unfortunate that the NC leadership has decided to back the amendment proposal even without CPN-UML's opposition. "A consensus must be forged among the major political parties on key issues of the constitution. If attempts are made to sideline a major party, the nation could slip into a fresh round of conflict," said Gurung.
Gurung argued that NC leaders should heed the opinion and demands of the people at the local level while taking decision on a crucial issue like federal delineation. "Our leadership must take into account the opinion of the local people. Or else, the country will face serious consequences," said Gurung.
Another NC lawmaker Chandra Bhandari said that they would be forced to take to the streets if the party leadership went ahead with the amendment proposal without building consensus within the party. "Our party has not held any discussion with us on the amendment issue, let alone with the experts in the region concerned. We won't support the proposal made unilaterally by the top leaders," said NC lawmaker Chandra Bhandari, who hails from Gulmi.
Bhandari also said that the support of the main opposition party is a must for amending crucial provisions of the new constitution. "Why are our leaders talking about amendment even as there absolutely is no problem with the existing demarcation of Province 5? A large number of people are likely to be killed soon after the demarcation is manipulated. Who will take responsibility for such eventualities?" he asked.
A large number other NC leaders including Dr Shekhar Koirala have been arguing that it would be unfortunate to push forward an amendment proposal without taking the main opposition party into confidence. Dr Koirala has urged the party's top leadership to hear people's views at the local level before taking any decision on revising federal demarcation.
During a meeting of the party's office bearers held at the NC's Parliamentary Office on Tuesday, majority of the leaders including senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel had urged the top leadership to decide about revising federal demarcation only after holding consultations with the lawmakers of the concerned districts and other civil society leaders. They also suggested to the leadership to take the CPN-UML into confidence before registering such a proposal.