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Gridlock again

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
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After the main opposition UML decided to obstruct parliament proceedings, the House was put off without discussing the second amendment to the constitution bill on Wednesday.

Two days after the government decided to hold local elections on 14 May, the ruling parties wanted to move forward the amendment bill in an attempt to persuade Madhesi parties to participate in the polls.

But nine opposition partied led by the UML decided to obstruction the House if the amendment bill was discussed. And the Parliament secretariat postponed Parliament until Thursday afternoon.

Asked if the UML will disrupt the House on Thursday as well, the party’s Chief Whip Gokul Gharti told Nepali Times: “I cannot tell it now, but I can tell is we are against this amendment, and will do everything to foil it.”

UML’s decision might force Madhesi parties to harden their stance. They have already decided to boycott elections nationwide, and disrupt polls in the Tarai. Asked about the success of local elections without Madhesi parties, Gharti said: “Elections and constitution amendment are two different issues, let us not mix them.”

Madhesi parties had supported the Pushpa Kamal Dahal government in the hope that the Maosit-NC ruling coalition would amend the Constitution. But the UML wanted elections, not the amendment.

Stuck between the UML and Madhesi parties at a time when the Election Commission was running out of time, the government announced the poll date, and then tried to appease Madhesi parties by moving forward the amendment bill.

But UML’s new decision has widened its rift with Madhesi parties, which called a strike on Wednesday in the Tarai against the poll announcement. Madhesi cadres pelted stones at the house of UML leader Raghubir Mahaseth in Janakpur, resulting in a clash between them and UML activists. Two were injured in the clash.

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