January 5, 2017 07:52 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, Jan 5: Following the recent Supreme Court ruling on the constitutional amendment bill, the political parties have started informal negotiations on putting the issue of provincial demarcations on hold.
Senior leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) and the opposition CPN-UML have said both sides now realize that the Supreme Court may undo Parliament’s decision if provincial boundaries are changed despite its ‘clear indication’ not to do so without getting the provincial assembly on board.
The CPN-UML has become flexible about ending its obstructions of Parliament following the court ruling. But the party has stated that the ruling parties should be ready to settle the amendment issue on the basis of the court ruling. Pointing out that the court clearly indicates Parliament should bring the provincial assembly on board, UML leaders have floated the idea of putting on hold any amendment that separates the five hill districts from Province 5.
“There is no doubt a meeting point can be found if the provincial boundary revision issue is withheld for now. But the ruling parties haven’t come to us with their proposal for a solution,” UML Deputy Parliamentary Party Leader Subas Nembang told Republica.
The government, registering a seven-point constitutional amendment bill at the parliament secretariat on November 30, had proposed to take all the hill districts out of Province 5.
The Supreme Court, responding to a writ petition demanding termination of the amendment bill on Sunday, had declined to intervene in the parliamentary process but reminded it of the constitutional provision related to revision of provincial boundaries.
“The court has not barred the amendment proposal being tabled and discussed in the House. We (parties) will hold discussions and find an appropriate solution prior to endorsing the amendment bill,” said NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel.
Similarly, a senior leader of the ruling Maoist party said that endorsing the amendment proposal in its existing form will be ‘against’ the court ruling. “The amendment proposal cannot be endorsed in its existing form. While revising it in line with the court ruling, putting on hold the provision on revising provincial boundaries would be an option,” said the Maoist leader who asked not to be named.
Asked about the ruling party’s strategy following the court ruling, another senior Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said both ruling and opposition parties will find a suitable solution in line with the decision of the court. “Both the amendment proposal and the election related bills will be tabled in the House and all the major parties will then find a solution to the current stalemate in line with the SC ruling,” he said.
In the wake of the court ruling, the House meeting has been postponed till Sunday. But leaders from both sides said finding a solution prior to the next meeting is unlikely.