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Nepal’s main opposition party not to back constitution amendment

It has a hidden design to split Hill, Mountain and Tarai ( Madhes) regions, CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli said. It is also against the national interest, so the UML is not going to support it.

world Updated: Jul 09, 2017 20:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Nepal constitution,KP Sharma Oli,Madhes agitation
Madhesi people protest against the new constitution of Nepal in 2015(HT file photo)

Nepal’s main opposition party will not support a constitution amendment bill aimed at addressing the grievances of Madhes-based parties, its leader said on Sunday.

Madhesi parties have demanded the amendment to the statute as a precondition for their participation in the local election slated for September 18 in Province no 2, considered the Madhesi heartland.

“We will not allow its passage,” said CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli in his hometown Jhapa on Sunday.

It has a hidden design to split Hill, Mountain and Tarai ( Madhes) regions, he said. “It is also against the national interest, so the UML is not going to support it.”

Oli’s hardline position comes as CPN-UML has emerged victorious and had a better showing than ruling Nepali Congress, the largest party in parliament, in the first and second rounds of local elections.

The victory is being attributed to UML’s pro-nationalist agenda, strong leadership of Oli and the party’s sleek organisational base after Oli became its chairman two years ago.

A two-thirds majority is required to pass the constitution amendment bill in parliament. Those favouring the amendment do not enjoy majority. Only a split voting in UML-led opposition alliance will ensure two-thirds majority.

The UML dubbed the amendment as an ‘anti-national’ move designed to split Nepal that also disturbs the ethnic harmony existing for centuries. Ruling Nepali Congress, Maoist Center and some other parties have called it “a necessity of the county” to bring on board all sections of society.

Several violent agitations have taken place in Madhes since the promulgation of the constitution, leaving at least 60 people dead and scores, including security personnel, injured.

Oli, a leftist leader once seen as close to India, now has very acrimonious relations with New Delhi following the infamous blockade of Nepal-India border in the wake of the Madhesi uprising.

He also criticised the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) for not holding any consultations with his party before tabling the amendments in the House.

But the ruling parties dismissed Oli’s stance as just a pressure tactic because UML is also seeking some kind of credit for constitution amendment proposal and wants to be part of consultations.

“Our precondition is to withdraw the constitution amendment proposal tabled in the parliament first”, Oli said. “Then we can discuss how relevant it is and whether it should be approved or not.”

The erstwhile government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘ Prachanda’ had tabled a constitution amendment bill in parliament on reviewing the demarcation of some federal boundaries and making constitution Madhes-friendly including ensuring the presence of Madhesi people in various state organs on the basis of population ratio.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 19:52 IST