NC, Maoist leaders at odds with own MPs over delineations

Published On: November 28, 2016 11:40 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

KATHMANDU, Nov 28: With mounting dissatisfaction within the two key ruling parties over the proposed amendments to the new Constitution, the top leadership of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN (Maoist Center) find themselves in real trouble. 

The NC and Maoist Center leaderships shelved their original plan to register the amendment bill in Parliament on Sunday after senior leaders within their parties warned them of serious consequences if the delienation of Province 5 was revised against the will of the local population. 

NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel on Sunday held a meeting with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to urge him not to move ahead with the amendment proposal that, among other things, seeks to take the hill districts out of Province 5 without first holding consultations with local leaders across party lines.“You cannot ignore the demands and protests of another region while trying to address the demands and protests of one region," he argued.

The government's amendment bill proposes taking the five hill districts out of Province 5, and revising the existing boundary of Province 4, so that Province 5 will stretch from Nawalparasi to Bardiya district. Local leaders across various political parties, including the ruling NC and the Maoist Center, have already announced they will stage stringent protests against any such revision. In some places the protests have already started.

Senior NC leaders in Province 5, including Bal Krishna Khand, Puspa Bhusal and Chandra Bhandari, are strongly opposed to changes in the existing delineations of Province 5. NC President Deuba has called a meeting on Monday of the party's current and immediate-past office bearers for further discussions  as differences within the party on the proposed amendment proposal are mounting further. 

Paudel said there is no point registering the proposal without forging consensus among all three major political parties.“"I have suggested to the prime minister and senior leaders of the party not to take the amendment process forward without forging consensus with all parties concerned," he told media at Tribhuvan International Airport before leaving for Japan. 

Earlier, NC President Deuba had entrusted Paudel with the responsibility of bring the main opposition party, UML, onboard the amendment process. The UML is opposed to any amendment, including the revision of  delineations to Province 5.

According to a senior Maoist Center leader, Prime Minister Dahal changed his mind about registering the proposal Sunday despite repeated urgings from his cabinet colleagues, for two main reasons: While the prime minister feared that the move is likely to invite fresh confrontation among major political parties, the proposal has not been fully  owned by the Madhes-based parties with  a commitment to participate in the elections.“If the proposal does not address the problem that the prime minister seeks to address, I do not think it would move ahead”" he told Republica.

Also, several Maoist Center lawmakers, including Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, are opposed to any revision in the delineations of Province 5. Sources said that a few Maoist lawmakers representing Province 5 are almost certain to defy the party's whip, leaving Prime Minister Dahal, who is also chairman of the Maoist Center, in a dilemma. Dahal is scheduled to hold further discussions within the party on Monday on whether to push forward with  the amendment proposal. 

Leaders familiar with the development said NC, Maoist Center and CPN-UM lawmakers hailing from Province 5 are preparing to exert pressure on the party leadership not to register any such amendment proposal in the first place. And even if such a proposal is registered, they are mulling to register an amendment to the official amendment bill, and vote against the proposed amendments.

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