POLITICS Simmering Crisis

As the constitution is yet to be implemented, no government can last long

Sept. 15, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 10, No 4, September 16,2016 (Bhadra 31, 2073)

With a thumping majority in the Legislature Parliament, CPN-Maoist Center and Nepali Congress placed Pushpa Kamal Dahal led coalition in the seat of government, which does not have any reason to worry at the moment. However, the ground situation is different.

As Madheshi Parties have issued a threat to withdraw their support in case of failure to bring an amendment to the constitution as per their demands, the future of the present coalition looks uncertain.

“If the government does not listen to us and moves as it wishes like the previous CPN-UML led coalition, there is no reason to continue to support this government.  If they are trying to fool us again by lingering over our demands, we can withdraw our support anytime soon,” said Hridayesh Tripathy, co-chair of Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party.

Defying the demands of Madhesh-based parties, which want amendments in 52 various articles related to forms of government, federal structure, local bodies, citizenship and boundary of the provinces, the parliament passed three bills recently paving the way for the formation of high courts and appointment of judges at provincial levels.

Similarly, the government is also pushing the agenda of restructuring of local bodies ignoring the demands of Madhesh based parties which are demanding the local bodies restructuring only after solving the issues of demarcation of provinces.

“This government is heading to implement the constitution. No one can stop us from holding the three elections in the coming eighteen months,” said Minister of Physical and Transport Minister Ramesh Lekhak. “We are waiting for the report of Local Bodies Restructuring Commission.”

Given this situation, a major political deadlock is likely among the political parties anytime soon. As Samyukta Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha is pushing for a political settlement before the implementation of the constitution, the ruling parties alliance is pressing for the implementation of the constitution.  

When asked about the grievances of the Madhesi people over the Constitution, Prachanda said he was personally very sad that a movement took place last year, and many people died. “Very few people know that I have registered a note of dissent in the Constitution. I have a natural sympathy for the Madhesi movement. Earlier, I was the coordinator of this very movement. So I believe that the demands of the Madheshis, Tharus, and Janajatis must be fulfilled,” prime minister Prachanda told the Indian media.

As there is no sign of registering the constitution amendment bill, Chairman of Sadbhawana Party Rajendra Mahato has started a political dialogue. He met Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and told him the government should move a constitutional amendment bill soon.

 “Deuba told me that the ruling parties should move a constitutional amendment bill after reaching understanding with the United Democratic Madhesi Front on the latter’s political demands,” said Mahato, who also met prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal a few days ago. “Prime Minister Prachanda assured me to register a constitutional amendment before his visit to India.”

Madheshi leaders hold the view that once the constitutional amendment bill is tabled in the House, it will intensify debates on constitutional issues and build the environment for amendment to the constitution.

Given the present state, nothing is likely as there is a difference within the parties over the issue of registering the amendment bill. “The government and the UDMF needed to reach an understanding on issues of revision of provinces, citizenship, representation in the Upper House of the Parliament and the question of language,” said Mahato.

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak has said that the Nepali Congress was working hard for the implementation of the new constitution.

“It was under NC's leadership that the statute was promulgated. Thus, the party has been doing its best to put it into practice. Elections of all three levels of government—federal, provincial and local -- must be held for full implementation of the constitution," he said. He also said that amendments are necessary as per the need of the time, "but it is difficult to make everyone happy over it,” said Lekhak, in subtle reference to Madheshi demands.

With the promulgation of the new constitution a year ago, Nepal has already seen three governments. If the situation continues, the fourth government will be likely any day and any time soon.

Given the statement of the ruling parties, amendment bill registration in the Legislature Parliament is not likely. This can break the marriage of SLMM, Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist.



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