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Amendment bill rejected

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Parliament voted down a constitution amendment bill on Monday, eliminating the possibility of a revision of the charter before the upcoming elections.

Opposition MPs cheered up as Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar announced that Parliament had rejected the bill.

Only 247 MPs voted for the bill, which was rejected by 206 MPs. In the 593-strong parliament, 40 MPs were either absent or boycotted the process.

The bill would have needed at least 396 votes in its favour to amend the Constitution, which was promulgated by Parliament in September 2015 despite objection from Madhes-based parties.

The bill was doomed to fail after the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) decided to reject it a day before the vote. The main opposition UML had always stood against the bill, labeling it “an anti-national move” engineered by “foreigner hands.”

The bill was registered by the ruling NC-Maoist coalition in April when CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal was Prime Minister.

But the bill gathered dust for more than three months as the ruling coalition failed to garner a two-thirds majority required for its passage.

All this while, the Tarai-centric Rashtriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) had been piling pressure on the ruling coalition to pass the bill at any cost.  It had been warning to boycott polls if the bill was not passed.

After succeeding Dahal as new Prime Minister, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba categorically told the RJPN that ensuring a two-thirds majority for the bill’s passage was impossible.

Left with no other choices, the RJPN asked the Deuba government to put the bill to vote even if claiming a two-thirds majority did not look possible.

NC-Maoist leaders have claimed that the RJPN has agreed to take part in the upcoming elections even if they failed to push through the bill, which proposed a constitutional commission to readjust federal boundaries.

However, the RJPN has not officially reacted to the claims made by the ruling coalition leaders. It is not yet clear if the party will decide to participate in the final phase of provincial polls, which was postponed to 18 September only to ensure the participation of all Tarai-centric parties.

Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday decided to hold provincial and parliamentary elections simultaneously on 26 November.

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