KATHMANDU, Oct 18: As the deadline given by the agitating Madhesi political parties to address their demands to amend the constitution approaches, leaders from both the ruling parties and the main opposition have said that the government hasn't initiated serious talks on the matter so far.
The government had earlier assured the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) of registering constitution amendment proposal before the Tihar festival, which begins on October 30.
However, with less than two weeks before the deadline, the government has not initiated meetings with major ruling partner Nepali Congress (NC), main opposition CPN-UML and the agitating UDMF.
“Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal or any other Maoist leaders haven't held serious talks with us about the constitution amendment issues,” NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel told Republica. He further said that the constitution amendment proposal should be discussed between NC, Maoist Center and the main opposition CPN-UML before registering it in parliament. He said the approach to move the amendment proposal ahead without consent from the UML wouldn't yield positive result.
A constitution amendment requires two-thirds majority of the parliament which is possible but difficult to secure without UML's support.
The main opposition UML's deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Nembang also said that it has become clear that the government is reluctant to amend the new constitution. “The ruling leaders are trying to defer the matter by showing the UML as the hurdle. In fact UML is ready to cooperate if the ruling parties can justify an amendment to the constitution, which was endorsed by over 90 percent representatives.”
A recent central committee meeting of the CPN-UML decided that the party would support the constitution amendment proposal only if the ruling side can prove the relevance of an amendment.
Chairman of the agitating Shadbhawana Party Rajendra Mahato claimed that the UDMF may withdraw its support to the Dahal-led government and launch a fresh agitation if the government does not bring a constitution amendment proposal in parliament by the first week of November.
“The government has not officially invited us for dialogue on constitution amendment issues yet. We expect the ruling parties to float a convincing proposal within a few days,” said Mahato. He, however, doesn't see any point in seeking UML's consent for registering the proposal.
“If the government registers an amendment proposal to address the grievances of majority of people in Madhes, we don't think the UML will vote against the will of the people,” said Mahato.