20 JANUARY 2015, KATHMANDU – UCPN (Maoist) lead obstruction of Constituent Assembly Enters second day in a row as ruling parties are preparing to vote and draft the new constitution by the deadline fixed one year earlier for the date January 22, 2015.
Last Night, Constituent Assembly was full of representatives from all parties and started its regular meeting and speech until Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai finish his speech to the assembly and opposition started yalling and obstruct the assembly and some of them even attempted to slap Assembly president Subash Nemwang.
Tension ran high in the Constituent Assembly in the wee hours of Tuesday after the UCPN (Maoist)-led bloc rampaged the Assembly following the move of CA Chairman Subas Nembang to allow a proposal for the formation of the Questionnaire Committee to work out the disputed issues of the new constitution before they are put to a vote.
The bloc, which had not given the names of its representatives in the Business Advisory Committee of the CA for the Questionnaire Committee, is against forming such committee arguing that the move may signal the end of the CA itself.
“Formation of the questionnaire panel will split the CA, paving the way for its demise,” said Baburam Bhattarai, chairman of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC), before Nembang initiated the process for new committee formation. After CA members from the 19-party bloc encircled the well, Chairman Nembang put off the meeting until 1pm on Tuesday.
The CA members broke the seats and injured marshals deployed in the CA hall. One dozen security officials were injured in a scuffle when CA members attempted to break the cordon and reach for the CA chair’s seat. According to Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel, UML Chief KP Sharma Oli and Vice-chairperson Bidhya Bhandari sustained minor injuries.
This kind of unruly Maoist behaviour in the House is not new though. On September 19, 2010, representatives of the former rebel party assaulted then Finance Minister Surendra Pandey and broke his briefcase while he was due to present the budget in Parliament.
“The situation resulted from the unilateral approach of both the ruling parties and the CA chairman and they should be held responsible,” said Maoist Chief Whip Giriraj Mani Pokharel.
The ruling parties have condemned the action. “The Maoists have shown their true colours but the process will not be halted,” said Oli.
Before asking Nepali Congress Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha to table the proposal for the Questionnaire Committee, CA Chairman Nembang said that since the PDCC has failed to either come up with consensus or to form the questionnaire as directed, the Assembly was undertaking the task as per the Rules of Procedure.
“This is a condemnable act. It cannot be excused,” Nembang said after the meeting was disrupted.
The major parties who claimed to be “closing gap” on the contentious issues on Sunday, failed to come up with concrete proposals though top leaders remained busy in cross-party meetings throughout Monday. The ruling parties in the cross-party meeting had floated various options including leaving the issue of federalism and forwarding issues related to judiciary, electoral system and forms of government to the Drafting Committee via the PDCC.
Another option put forth by the ruling parties was forming the questionnaire committee to sort the disputes. “But the Maoists and the members of their Morcha were averse to the idea. In that case, we suggested that the CA Chairman be allowed to act as per the Rules of Procedure,” said UML Vice-Chairman Bhim Rawal.
The Maoist-led bloc maintains that they agreed to demonstrate flexibility only if the other side was ready to concede ground. “We could be flexible on the forms of government only if the other side was willing to be flexible on federalism,” said Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
Leaders of the agitating block maintained that the ruling NC and UML did not even agree to give them two days to discuss the options floated by them. “This made the conflict inevitable,” said Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahanta Thakur.
But ruling party leaders accused them of lingering negotiations as a ploy to get past the deadline. “They neither agree to withdraw their protest programme nor to initiate the process in the CA. Seeking extra time is a ploy to get rid of the deadline,” said UML senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal. Earlier on Monday Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli had a separate meeting. The two leaders also discussed a power-sharing arrangement after constitution promulgation and assurances that war-era cases will not be revived later, according to a senior Maoist leader.
Parties had been discussing multiple options for a “breakthrough”. For consensus sake, the Maoist party consented to six states provided that the ruling parties agree to give them “mixed” names.
On electoral system, the parties had claimed they had agreed to mixed system with the Maoists claiming equal distribution on direct and proportional representation categories. But sources claimed that the ruling parties floated 80/20 ratio, which was turned down by the alliance.