RAM KUMAR KAMAT
KATHMANDU: The Chairman of the Constitutional-Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee of the Constituent Assembly, Baburam Bhattarai, has called a meeting of the CA panel at 1:00pm on Sunday.
A few days ago, Bhattarai had postponed the CA panel’s meeting indefinitely due to deadlock over ruling parties’ joint proposal on key issues of the constitution.
CA Chair Subas Chandra Nembang said he talked to Bhattarai over phone and told him to call the panel’s meeting so as to forge consensus on the vexed issues. “As a chairperson of CPDCC, you should not lose hope of forging consensus. You should keep trying to meet political leaders, to make the next meeting fruitful,” Nembang told Bhattarai.
A CA Secretariat source said there was deep distrust between the ruling and the opposition parties. “The opposition parties fear that if the ruling parties’ joint proposal was forwarded to the CA full house, the ruling parties could get their proposal passed on the basis of two thirds majority,” the source said and added that the ruling parties feared that if they agreed on a small percentage of proportional representation for the Lower House, the opposition parties could bargain hard to increase the PR representation.
The ruling parties and the opposition parties have serious differences not only on electoral system but also on federalism, forms of governance and judicial system.
According to the source, both sides have now made the joint proposal a prestige issue.
“The ruling parties will deem it their failure if they cannot get the CPDCC to forward their proposal to the CA. The opposition parties think that if they could not forge consensus in the CPDCC, it would be their failure,” the CA Secretariat source added.
Asked what the ruling parties’ strategy would be in the CPDCC, CPN-UML Chief Whip Agni Kharel said if parties failed to forge consensus, then the ruling parties’ proposal had to be sent to the CA. “CA members may be knowing through their respective parties what the ruling parties’ stance is on the key issues of constitution but the CA does not formally know about it. So the proposal must be sent to the CA full house for a debate,” Kharel said, adding that his party would stick to their proposal.
Kharel said his party was for consensus-based constitution but the voting process had to be followed if there was no agreement between the parties on key issues of constitution. He said the NC and the UML were discussing their strategies in the CPDCC.
Federal Socialist Party Chair Ashok Kumar Rai, who is a member of CPDCC, said the opposition parties would discuss tomorrow what further strategies they would adopt in the CA. Rai said they would first discuss their strategies in the Federal Republican Alliance and, if required, they would discuss the issue among the 20 parties that have representation in the CPDCC.
Rai, however, said their focus would be on consensus-based constitution.
The opposition parties have said legal provision does not back ruling parties’ argument that their document should be sent to the CA as a proposal. “If the NC/UML want the CPDCC to send their proposal to the CA, the panel can include it in the annex,” Rai added.