Kathmandu, December 2 (Nepali Times): A day after the Maoist-Nepali Congress government registered a second constitution amendment bill in Parliament, protests erupted in several parts of mid-western Nepal on Wednesday over the bid to redraw provincial boundaries.
If the bill is passed by the House, five hill districts of Province 5 (Palpa, Gulmi, Arghakhachi, Rolpa and Pyuthan) will be in Province 4. And the eastern part of Rukum district, which was in province 6, will also be in Province 4.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Wednesday said the readjustment of provincial boundaries was necessary for national unity, and the country will now head towards elections. However, local chapters of political parties in western Nepal hit the streets, saying separation of their districts was unacceptable. They have vowed to continue with their protests unless the amendment bill is withdrawn.
Redrawing provincial boundaries was the major demand of the Madhesi parties that rejected the constitution pushed through by the NC, the UML and the Maoists. But the second amendment proposal has not addressed their concerns either.
The Upendra Yadav-led Federal Alliance on Wednesday rejected the bill, saying it failed to fulfill their aspirations for greater representation and warned of protests.
The Madhesi Front has not given an official statement about the amendment bill, and was in meetings all day Wednesday. Its leaders have said they will not take part in elections.
The main opposition United Maoist Leninist (UML) on Wednesday decided to obstruct House proceedings and carry out street protests, saying the second constitution amendment is ‘anti-national’ and ‘will ruin the nation.’
The UML has 183 seats in Parliament, and lacks numeral strength to foil the bill even with the support of 12 other MPs of fringe parties who are also opposed to the constitution amendment. However, for the NC-Maoist coalition to push through this bill, it needs support of Madhesi parties, the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and other fringe parties.
If all Madhesi parties reject the bill, the RPP is unlikely to vote for it. In that case, amending the constitution for a second time will be even more difficult. the Madhesis are people of Indian origin who are predominant in some areas of Nepal.
(The featured pictures shows Nepalese student organizations burning tyres in the protest. Photo: Nepali Times)