March 25, 2018 06:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, March 25: Leaders of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) said that the party would join the government once there is a written agreement on constitution amendment.
FSFN leaders said that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's reluctance to sign the already agreed draft agreement on constitution amendment has delayed the party from joining the government.
"Interlocutors from our party and the left alliance have already prepared a draft agreement on the constitution amendment. We would join the government once there is written agreement. But it is not happening for some reason," said FSFN senior leader Ashok Rai.
According to Rai, there has also been a tentative agreement on power sharing. FSFN is likely to get three portfolios in PM Oli's cabinet including a post of deputy prime minister.
Oli's reluctance to ink deal has surprised many FSFN leaders. The two sides had reached an informal understanding on amendment and power-sharing after over a dozen rounds of formal and informal meetings.
"The two sides had prepared a draft agreement under the direct supervision of the prime minister, Maoist chairman and our chairman. We are naturally surprised why he is taking time to ink the deal," said an FSFN leader who was engaged in the preparation of the draft. He said that they are expecting a deal before Oli departs to India for a state visit.
FSFN, one of the two Madhes-based parties having representation in the parliament, has owned up the constitution albeit with reservation on some issues. The party has long demanded revision of some provision relating to federalism.
The party has particularly objected to Article 274 of the constitution saying that there is a need to amend the article in such a way that it would make it easier to redraw the federal boundaries in the future. In addition to that, the party has also demanded for a federal commission to be set up permanently to resolve all disputes pertaining to federal boundaries.
Instead of making any concrete pledges on the revision of boundaries, Prime Minister KP Oli and Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal have given assurance to revise the constitution if its "need is justified." Though the deal would not necessarily guarantee a revision of the constitution, both sides appear desperate to sign the agreement for obvious reasons.
For the left alliance, a coalition pact with the FSFN allows strong chances to run the government with relative political stability. It will also help the left restore the trust of the Madhesi people who remain skeptical of the alliance due to its stance on constitution amendment.
It could possibly pave way for the left to join the government in Province 2, the sole plains-only province where the left is not in power, or have greater influence in the governance of the province.
For the FSFN, the largest Madhesi party in the federal parliament and a party in charge of government in Province 2, it is the best chance to be a part of one of the most powerful governments in Nepal's history which is expected to be in power for a full five-year term.
Meanwhile, the left alliance's talks with another Madhesi party, the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, have failed to move forward with the latter demanding unconditional release of leaders arrested during Madhes agitation. The two sides had held few rounds of talks on the issue of power sharing and constitution amendment.