RAM KUMAR KAMAT
KATHMANDU: Differences have surfaced in Madhesi parties on whether to go for Constituent Assembly or parliamentary elections.
The divide runs deep between Upendra Yadav led Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal and Madhesi parties that are partners in the Baburam Bhattarai led coalition government. While constituents of United Democratic Madhesi Front want new CA elections, Yadav is for parliamentary elections.
“There is no provision for holding CA elections twice. The CA failed to give a new constitution so there should be parliamentary elections. It is ultimately political consensus that will give a new constitution. The new parliament can also work as CA and ratify a new constitution,” Yadav argued. He said other Madhesi parties were bereft of vision, and were thus opposed to parliamentary elections.
This is the first time major ideological differences have emerged after the 2008 CA elections when Yadav's party advocated presidential form of government and other Madhesi parties were for parliamentary form.
Only time will tell who is on the right side of history, but UDMF and MJF-Nepal champion the same cause though they stand on opposite sides on some major issues. Yadav’s stance on parliamentary elections is somewhat similar to that of the NC/UML which has irked other Madhesi parties. “Writing a constitution through the CA was never the NC or UML agenda. Yadav seems to have fallen into their trap. That's why he is pleading for parliamentary elections,” reacted Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) leader Khushi Lal Mandal.
Columnist CK Lal questioned the advocacy for parliamentary elections saying there was no provision for the same in the Interim Constitution.
Sadbhavana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato echoed Lal. "Which constitution are they (those who want parliamentary elections) talking of? There is no provision for parliamentary election in the Interim Constitution.” He said those who were seeking solution out of the purview of the Interim Constitution were rejecting federalism and republicanism.
Mahato said holding parliamentary elections would necessitate amendments in the constitution, but nobody, neither the government nor the president or parties had the authority to amend the constitution. “Going by the Interim Constitution, we will have to hold CA elections and that will be for a 601 member house for four years,” Mahato said.
Some Madhesi parties and UCPN-M advocate a large CA as there will be greater representation of margnialised communities which will give them an advantage on federalism. NC and UML believe elections for reduced parliament will be to their advantage.