An alliance of Nepal’s opposition parties on Friday alleged that the government led by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” was a “puppet” of “foreign powers” and accused India of interfering in the country’s internal matters.
The grouping of nine parties led by the CPN-UML organised a massive protest in Kathmandu that also criticised Madhes-based parties and opposed the constitutional amendment bill registered in Parliament by the government.
Thousands of opposition cadres marched through the streets of the capital, causing traffic snarls through the day and affecting normal life. They demanded the government should withdraw the constitutional amendment bill, which is meant to address the demands of agitating Madhesi parties.
The opposition parties described the bill as “anti-national” and CPN-UML chairman and former premier KP Oli said it would not be supported at any cost. “We will not support and approve the bill,” he said.
The bill is part of a “grave conspiracy” aimed at dividing the nation, Oli said, adding that the Madhes-based parties are “working to destroy national identity and language”.
Opposition leaders such as Ishowor Pokhrel, CP Mainali and Chitra Bahadur KC accused India of interfering in Nepal’s affairs and criticised Prachanda for dancing to the “tune of India”. They claimed the constitutional amendment bill was tabled to appease India.
The bill is aimed at addressing the demands of Madhesis such as citizenship, language, change in boundaries of states and making the Constitution more acceptable to marginalised and minority communities.
The bill was not taken up by Parliament after it was registered on November 29 because of repeated obstruction of proceedings by opposition parties.
“Why do they need Hindi as an official language? We have Maithili, Bhojpuri and Abadhi languages that are also spoken in Madhes. So, it clearly shows their intention,” Oli said, calling Madhesis a “minority in vote” in their own region.
He said those who were claiming they would “wipe out” the opposition parties in Madhes had only 11 parliamentary seats in the region while the CPN-UML has 40 seats. “We are launching a grand people’s awareness campaign across Madhes soon,” he added.
Oli’s hardening position on Madhes and the constitutional amendment bill is expected to further polarise Nepali politics and could lead to a confrontation at a time when the government is doing little to implement the new Constitution adopted in 2015.
The government has said it doesn’t have the required two-third majority in the House to get the bill approved. The passage of the bill is crucial for holding elections to local bodies and meeting the demands of the Madhes-based parties.
The Madhesi parties have warned they will not participate in future elections if the bill is not passed.