RJP in hurry for voting on amendment bill to go to polls

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Top leaders of RJP meeting with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal at Baluwatar on Friday, August 11, 2017. RSS

The government will table the constitution amendment bill for voting on Tuesday on request of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal.

Top leaders of RJP, during the meeting with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal held at Baluwatar on Friday, requested the government to table the bill for voting irrespective of the chances of it being passed.

RJP had long been insisting that the bill should be passed at any cost and urging the government to not table it for voting if there were chances of it being rejected by the House. The party, that has made up its mind to take part in the third phase of polls scheduled for September 18, now wants to rest the amendment bill through voting.

"This is a game and it can pass or fail. We have confidence that it will be passed," RJP leader Sharat Singh Bhandari said coming out of the Baluwatar meeting. "If anybody were to defeat this fight for rights, we will go to the people with this agenda," he stated.

 PM Deuba had earlier told the RJP leaders, who had been putting pressure on him to move the bill forward soon during informal meetings, that it will be tabled only after he returns back from his India visit later in August.  

Indian external Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is in Kathmandu to attend the minister-level meeting of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), had met PM Deuba and RJP leaders separately late Thursday evening.

RJP leaders have asked the government to table it for voting sooner as they will have little time left to prepare for the polls scheduled for September 18 if the bill were moved forward only after Deuba's India visit.

RJP General Secretary Keshav Jha said the party has decided to end the process of amendment bill soon on the basis of the mandate of the party's central committee meeting that finished a few days back, and the Supreme Court (SC) decision on Thursday in favor of adding local units in Madhes.

The SC on Thursday revoked the writ petition filed against the government's decision to add local units in tarai paving the way for RJP to take part in the third phase of local polls. RJP, which had boycotted the second phase of local election in lack of addition of local units in tarai, has already welcomed the SC decision.

A joint bench of Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli and Purushottam Bhandari revoked the petition filed by Dhan Bahadur Shrestha, Gopal Shrestha and Sharmila Silwal against the government's decision on May 23 to add 22 local level units in 12 districts in the plains of the country to address the demands of Madhes-based parties.

The SC on May 26 had issued an interim order instructing the government to not immediately implement the decision to add the number of local units in a few districts in tarai. 

The government in June had applied for vacation seeking review of the interim order to appease RJP to ensure participation of the coalition of Madhes-based parties in the second round of local election.

But the Apex Court on June 13 refused to register the government’s application for vacation of the interim order staying addition of local units in tarai stating that the interim order was issued after hearing both the sides.

RJP had officially said it would not participate in the second round of local election if the constitution were not amended and number of local units not added in tarai in proportion to the population there. But during the subsequent negotiations with the government it had agreed to take part in the second phase of polls even without constitution amendment if the number of local units in tarai were increased.

The government's efforts to bring RJP into the second phase of polls had failed after the SC refused to register the application for vacation.

The government had subsequently decided to hold election in only Province 1, 5 and 7 in the second phase, and hold that in Province 2 in the third phase in September.