Demands local polls in single phase across country
KATHMANDU, April 7: While stressing the need to bring the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the election process, the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has decided to expedite the constitution amendment process in parliament.
A joint meeting of the NC Central Working Committee (CWC) and its parliamentary party held on Friday decided to push forward the amendment bill through maximum possible consensus among major political parties. The decision by the NC comes at a time when the Madhes-based parties have withdrawn their support for the government over its failure to push forward the amendment process, and are also preparing to foil local-level polls in their stronghold.
According to lawmaker and NC CWC Member Farmullah Mansoor, most of those speaking at the meeting pointed out the need to bring the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the election process at any cost. “They expressed concern over the failure of the government to create a conducive environment for all the parties to take part in the election even as the election date fast approaches,” said Mansoor.
NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel argued that the party must leave no stone unturned to bring the Madhesi people on board the poll process as Madhes remains a strong base of the NC. “While we have not been able to hold sufficient dialogue with the Madhesi people, a section of the Madhes-based parties are trying to exaggerate things. The NC has to take appropriate initiatives to resolve the Madhes issue before the polls,” NC lawmaker Ram Hari Khatiwada quoted Paudel as saying.
During the meeting, NC CWC Member Krishna Sitaula had informed about the progress being made in the informal negotiations among major parties and the agitating Madhes-based parties on the new proposal on constitution amendment. Sitaula said major parties are close to an agreement to shelve the issue of changing the boundaries of Province-5 and to settle this through a powerful commission.
The major parties, according to Sitaula, are holding discussions on introducing a new five-point proposal on constitution amendment after withdrawing the seven-point amendment proposal currently on hold in parliament. The new proposal will seek changes in some clauses of Article 274 that make it mandatory to get the endorsement of a majority of members of the provincial assemblies concerned to revise province boundaries. It also seeks to disfranchise the chiefs and deputy chiefs of municipalities and rural municipalities in the election of members of the national assembly.
Altogether 23 NC CWC members and lawmakers had put forth their views during the meeting organized to collect feedback on the party's internal preparations for elections and on drafting an election manifesto. Most of those speaking at the meeting argued that the local level polls must be organized in a single phase across the country. They maintained that the proposal of Prime Minister Dahal to hold the polls in two phases was aimed at prolonging his stay in power and foiling the prospects of holding the polls on the stipulated date.
The CWC members also expressed concern that the power politics that had surfaced lately could affect the implementation of the new constitution. While maintaining that the deputy prime minister from the NC should get seniority as it is the largest party in parliament, they suggested to the party leadership to settle the seniority row amicably in the cabinet and keep the current coalition intact until elections.
Paudel questions leadership over new proposal on amendment
NC senior leader Paudel has questioned the party leadership over preparations for a much-touted five-point proposal on constitutional amendment.
Speaking during the meeting, Paudel asked where the rumor of the five-point proposal to address Madhesi demands had come from when an amendment proposal is already pending in parliament.“"There has not been any discussion within the party about this. I have grown suspicious on seeing the way this has been floated lately”" he said.
Paudel vented his ire against the party leadership for taking crucial decisions unilaterally. Echoing Paudel, another CWC member and lawmaker Bal Bahadur KC also criticized the party leadership for not holding discussions within the party even while taking major decisions.