SC Ruling And Oppositions' Stance
Following the Supreme Court (SC) ruling which did not find it necessary to order against the constitution amendment Bill registered by the government in the Parliament on November 29, it was expected that the opposition bloc led by the main opposition party, CPN-UML, would not continue disruption of the House. But they have not done so and there is no sign that they will realise the futility of blocking the House for long any sooner. They have been arguing that the Bill can't even be discussed in the Parliament because it is 'against nationality'. For them, only matters that are pro-nationality can be discussed in the House and only they can judge whether a given proposal is against or for nationality.
It seems, from now onwards, if the government wants to register any Bill, it should first of all ensure consent of the opposition parties. Similarly, if any member of parliament wants to bring forth a private Bill, she/he should also seek oppositions' blessing. Therefore, from now on, only laws that the oppositions want can be introduced. If the ruling parties want any matters to be discussed in the House, they should give up power and change into the opposition parties!
It is clear that the opposition parties are gripped by fear that the 'anti-nationality' Bill is likely to be endorsed once it is presented for vote. But, when they speak in the public, they say there is no possibility that the Bill will be endorsed. When asked why they are blocking the House discussion on the Bill if there is no possibility of its endorsement, they make illogical statements and say why discuss something that is not going to be approved. If so, why hold the House a hostage everything will go as they want. No doubt, opposition parties are acting as if they are only to 'oppose' anything.
Explaining the SC ruling in their own terms, the opposition parties have argued even the SC has pointed out at the need of the consent of the provincial assembly to make any changes in the provincial boundaries. Therefore, their stand that the present Parliament can't take decision on provincial boundary is approved by the ruling. But, they ignore another reference made by the SC that the present parliament works as the federal parliament and it can make decision with regard to provincial boundaries as well, but when the provincial assembly is in place, the decision should have approval from the assembly. So, it is likely that even if the present government Bill on changing the boundaries of Province no. 4 and 5 is endorsed by the parliament, it will have to be approved by the concerned provincial parliaments. It is very plain. But the opposition parties, even the UML, have failed to grasp it. If SC ruling is any clue, it is unlikely that boundaries of these two provinces will be changed even if the present parliament endorses the Bill because provincial parliament of Province no. 4 is unlikely to approve it once it is formed. In this sense, the SC ruling has slapped both the ruling and the opposition parties for their adamancy.
Alternatively, it has also given a face saving chance to both. Now, UML can cling on to the constitutional provision and SC ruling that no change in provincial boundary is valid until it is approved by the concerned province. For the ruling parties, they can soothe the Madhesh-based parties that they tried hard to address their demands. And for the Madhes-based parties, it will be an agenda to cash on in the upcoming elections.
Now, if the opposition parties, particularly UML want, the three levels of elections held within the constitutionally provisioned timeframe, January 21, 2018, they should allow voting of the Bill. Even if it is endorsed, about which they fear a lot, it will make no difference because it cannot be implemented until the concerned provincial assemblies approve it. If one approves it and the other does not, the federal parliament will have its say. Then UML can take its position again. If the Bill is defeated, all problems will be solved, or so much the better. But what the oppositions can do now is ensure that even if the Bill is endorsed, no boundary will be changed before the provincial elections are held and the provincial assemblies make the decision on the matter and that the provincial elections are held as per the present boundary of the provinces.
Starkly obvious is the fact that the ruling parties registered the Bill out of compulsion because they had made agreement with the Madhes-based parties to address their demands and they also have to create political environment for holding elections. With the registration of the Bill, the Madhes-based parties or the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has said it would take part in elections if the Bill is endorsed. It is illogical on the UDMF part. They should take part in elections no matter whether the Bill is endorsed or not. Otherwise, there could be an election government formed with the UML in the Cabinet, and UDMF will have no chance even for face saving. They should realise their demands are judged through the lens of nationality and core national interest. And most UDMF leaders have disrespected public sentiments by taking oath of office in the Hindi language, not in their own mother tongue such as Maithili, Bhojpuri, Abadhi or other languages they learn as a child.
With the reception of the report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission by the government, it has become certain that the government is committed and seriously working to hold elections in time. Previously, the opposition parties were relating the delay in the reception of the LLRC report with intention to postpone elections. Now, if they continue House obstruction, elections related Bills will also be blocked, and they should be blamed for it. For all these reasons, the oppositions have no logic to continue House disruption but to clear the way for elections by allowing the House to vote on the constitution amendment Bill and others.