President Bidya Devi Bhandari (Republica file photo)
Leaders stick to their stances
KATHMANDU, Dec 5: President Bidya Devi Bhandari has warned the top leaders of various political parties that they will have to face serious consequences if the three sets of elections are not held by January 2018 by way of implementing the Constitution.
President Bhandari summoned an all-party meeting at Shital Niwas on Sunday and expressed her concern for political stability and national unity.
"Constitution implementation has not taken on momentum as expected. If the three elections are not held within January 2018, the country will face a serious crisis. This looming risk has me worried," a party leader who was present at the meeting quoted the president as saying.
President Bhandari urged the leaders to focus on the implementation of the new Constitution through an exercise of national unity and keeping the national interest in mind.
"If disagreements continue among the political forces, others might try to influence us. I suggest to the leaders to move ahead with high regard for national sovereignty and unity among the political forces," one political leader quoted the president as saying.
As per a mandatory provision in the new Constitution, the elections for the local units, the provincial assemblies and the House of Representatives should all be held by January, 2018.
According to CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, President Bhandari said she called the all-party meeting to share with the leaders her deep feelings and concern as per the responsibilities of her position.
The top leaders of the ruling coalition opined that the amendment bill was meant to resolve the problems and guide the country towards elections, while the opposition leaders termed it unconstitutional and against the national interest. However, leaders of the agitating Madhes-based parties lamented that the amendment bill itself was incomplete and could not address their demands.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the amendment bill was registered in Parliament with high regard for national unity and the national interest. "The bill is in Parliament and it could be reviewed and revised within the House. The government is open to further discussions on it," Shrestha quoted the PM as saying.
Main opposition party CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli said the opposition parties could not support the amendment bill, claiming that it was unconstitutional, against the national interest and was registered in a non-transparent fashion.
Oli said the three-point agreement between the ruling parties and the agitating Madhes-based parties was a tool for coming to power and his party at present could not just be a mute spectator.
During the meeting, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba claimed that the amendment bill was registered in Parliament as per an agreement between the NC and UML back in 2014 and the opposition should not make it an issue now.
Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Kamal Thapa said the bill was not registered on the basis of any agreement even within the ruling coalition, but his party was open to discussing it in Parliament.
On the other hand, the Madhes-based parties informed the president that the amendment bill could still not address the grievances of Tarai-Madhes and that they wanted to see revisions to it.
"Suppression in Tarai-Madhes exists still and we can support the amendment only if it addresses this suppression and fosters an environment of equality," Federal Socialist Forum Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav told the president.
"The amendment bill could not address the agenda of Madhesi people. It shows that the Madhes-based parties are not within the ruling coalition, and if it is not reviewed, the gap between the state and the Madhesi people could increase further," said Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur at the all-party meeting.