“Statute Change Must Before Polls” Rajendra Mahato

As there are growing disputes between the government and Samyukta Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha over the constitution amendment or local elections, RAJENDRA MAHATO, President of Sadbhavana Party, spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT on various issues regarding the political course. Excerpts:

Issue Name : Vol.10, No 12, February 3,2017, (Magh 21,2073)

As prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is reportedly preparing to hold the local election before the amendment of the constitution, how do you look at this?

We have already made it clear that the local election is not acceptable to us without amending the constitution first. We cannot leave the amendment proposal for the local body elections.

If prime minister Dahal announced the elections on the pressure of his ruling alliance Nepali Congress and main opposition CPN-UML, what will be your response?

If prime minister Dahal announces the election without our consent, the election will be nothing more than a bogus exercise. We have already told the prime minister that any election without the amendment of the constitution is unacceptable to us. This is bottom line. First and foremost is the amendment of constitution as a large number of people are in agitation for the amendment of the constitution rather than the election. The demand of the agitating forces should be addressed before taking any decision. We wish that the elections be held only after the amendment of the constitution as desired by the people. SLMM has already announced a protest program to burn the report presented by Local Bodies Restructuring Commission. We will hold rallies and burn the report on February 5. The report allocated just one fourth of the position to an area which has 51 percent of population. Our demonstration will be just symbolic.

Is not it possible to use election as a plank for agitation?

I don’t think any election can address the agenda of change. No election has brought any major tangible change in any country and Nepal is no exception. The role of election is to institutionalize the change brought from streets. It is unfortunate that the present constitution has failed to institutionalize the change coming from street agitations. The present constitution was promulgated by misusing the agenda of the people. The way the CA promulgated the present constitution showed that the election alone is not enough to fulfill the agenda of people. Local bodies are development units and it is wrong to expect political agenda from them. The elections are contested in the local bodies on the basis of development, not on the basis of political agenda of Madheshis, Tharus and Janjatis.

As the government is planning to announce the elections date, don’t you think that the people will look at you as anti-democratic in opposing the election?

First of all, there is the need to clearly define who do you mean by people? If the people mean the people who promulgated the constitution by undermining the voices of the majority of people, people know who are with us. When we are demanding rights, we are blamed as disintegrative forces or anti-democratic. We don’t care about this. The election agenda is UML’s agenda. If this government follows the UML’s agenda, there is no sense to continue the alliance with Nepali Congress and Maoist Center.

The leaders of the two ruling parties, Nepali Congress and Maoist Center, have expressed their determination to hold the local elections at any time. How do you take this?

If they don’t listen to our suggestion and announce the elections on their own, we don’t have any option other than to go to the people and take a decision, whatever we can do. One thing is certain that the country will see another bloodbath if they go for elections by rejecting our voices. Three parties announced the constitution, killing the people in terai, and we cannot rule out the same situation in the coming days also. The local bodies election is possible only after the amendment of the constitution, accommodating our seven-point demands like citizenship, boundary of provinces, right of naturalized citizens, structure of local bodies and rights of provinces and inclusion.

How do you see the inclusion process?

We don’t want inclusion as in the case of the recently appointed judges of high courts. Although we oppose even the current basis of provinces and high courts, you can see how the judges are appointed without the proper representation of Madheshis, Janjatis, Dalit and Women.

As you said the local bodies are development units, why is there the need of your opposition then?

As you know we have been opposing the very foundation of the local bodies in the present constitution. One of our demands is to amend the provision related to local bodies. This constitution has made the local bodies more powerful than the provinces. The present set up of the local bodies is against the spirit of federalism. It is unacceptable for us. When we are opposing the very basics of the local body related article in the constitution, how can ruling parties expect our support? It is useless to talk on the issue anymore.

What do you suggest for the prime minister to do now?

The prime minister should work how to pass the amendment bill. We have already told him that there is the need to rewrite the amendment bill registered in the Legislature Parliament.

As the three parties have already passed the necessary five acts to hold the elections, how do you respond in case the elections are actually announced?

On the basis of the strength of two thirds, three parties, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Maoist Center, have already promulgated the constitution, putting the country into a chaos. If they follow a similar path and announce the elections, we have only option left, that is, to go to the people and oppose the elections. We can humbly request them not to do this. Since they are in power, it is up to them to decide what is going to be right and what is going to be wrong.

What will be your future course?

We still believe that the present coalition will work to amend the constitution by rewriting the present proposal as per the wishes of the Madheshi parties. Prime minister Dahal will not take a foolish decision in announcing the local bodies election without our consent.

How was your meeting with the two ruling parties?

We have frankly put our points before them. We told them about the need for the amendment of constitution with necessary change in the current amendment proposal. No elections are possible without the amendment. This is the bottom line.

 

 

 

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