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KP Sharma Oli says ready to amend Nepal Constitution

KP Sharma Oli

Kathmandu, Jan 27 (UITV/IANS) - CPN-UML Chairman K.P. Sharma Oli, widely seen as the country's Prime Minister-in-waiting, has said he is ready to amend the Constitution in order to address the concerns of Madhesi ethnic groups.

Oli, who fiercely opposed Constitution amendment in the past, said in Pokhara city on Friday that he was ready to amend the Constitution but Madhesi forces were skirting the issue because they feared that if the Constitution was amended, they would run out of election slogans, the Himalayan Times reported.

He, however, added that he would not support any attempt to divide hills and the Madhes.

Madhes-based parties have been demanding increase in the number of local units as per the population ratio through a constitutional amendment. Over 50 per cent population of Nepal is living in Terai/Madhes area and Madhesis are looking for a bigger pie, in keeping with the population ratio.

CPN-UML leader Subas Chandra Nembang tried to put his party chair's remarks in context.

He said: "We opposed the Constitution amendment bill in the past because it had not been implemented and the provincial assemblies had not been formed then. Situation has changed. We are saying that Constitution can be amended on the basis of necessity and rationale."

Rajendra Mahato, the leader of Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, an alliance of Madhes-based parties, said if the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist was committed to amending the Constitution to address Madhesis' issues, then it should move a motion in Parliament and make efforts to pass the motion.

"The Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre) are in favour of Constitution amendment but if the UML is also in its favour then it should table a bill in Parliament," he said.

He said Madhesi parties would never skirt such issues.

Mahato said the Madhesi parties' vote would help muster two-thirds majority in Parliament and if the UML moved a Constitution amendment bill, the Madhesi parties would surely support it.

"The UML says one thing but does another. We do not want to run away. Neither do we want to be cheated," Mahato said. He added that they tried to tie up with the left alliance for the National Assembly election, but the Constitution amendment was the stumbling block.

On the other hand, CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal said in Kathmandu that he wanted to address Madhesis' concerns "peacefully and within the confines of the Constitution".

Nepal concluded its historic general elections last month which put an end to 18 years of legislative interregnum and made way for a new bicameral Parliament approved in the Constitution of 2015.