NCP’s constitution amendment panel is ‘doomed’. Here’s why

Kathmandu, February 24

The ruling Nepal Communist Party has formed a three-member panel led by its senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal to suggest the government a constitution amendment proposal. Party insiders and commentators believe the panel is certain to fail.

Multiple sources privy to the recent political developments have hinted at the following factors as the reasons why the panel is not meant to be a success.


Person’s interest at centre

 Bamdev Gautam
File image: Bamdev Gautam

It has been learned that the party formed the panel under pressure from the party’s vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam to qualify him for the position of prime minister.

Gautam lost the 2017 House of Representatives elections in Bardiya in 2017 and failed to become a lawmaker. Nevertheless, the power-hungry leader has made repeated efforts to earn power. He convinced Kathmandu-7 House member Ram Bir Manandhar to resign to vacate the seat for him, but the plan did not materialise owing to protests from inside the party. The party proposed that Gautam contest the House of Representatives by-election in Kaski-2 in November 2019, but he did not dare. Yet, to take the key power player into the confidence, the NCP leadership offered him a candidacy in the National Assembly elections in January, in which the win was certain as the majority voters comprised of the NCP leaders at the local and provincial levels. Gautam denied, saying the National Assembly member cannot become the PM.

Since then, Gautam has been putting pressure on the leadership to appoint him as the National Assembly member and to amend the constitution letting a National Assembly member become the PM.

Since only one person is meant to benefit from the amendment, the party is unlikely to garner support from its own leaders for the effort. Instead, it would seriously give a blow to the party’s popularity.


No ownership of the panel

Madhav-Kumar-NepalAccording to media reports, the panel comprises Madhav Kumar Nepal, Subas Chandra Nembang and Khim Lal Devkota. Whereas Devkota has shared that party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has informed about the panel’s formation, leaders close to the former prime minister Nepal have said they do not know any such development. Nembang, on the other hand, has said he is ‘surprised’.

The NCP secretariat itself has not owned the decision. A secretariat member says the leaders had decided not to reveal the information to the media owing to the public protests. That’s why, though the decision was made on Saturday, it came out on Sunday afternoon only.


No sufficient votes

The announcement ceremony of Nepal Communist Party
The announcement ceremony of Nepal Communist Party

The NCP has a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives to lead the government, but it is a bit short of the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution. The party must be backed by Nepali Congress, Samajwadi Party or Rastriya Janata Party Nepal to endorse the amendment proposal. None of these parties is ready to support the NCP this time.

Samajwadi Party left the government two months ago after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli rejected the party chairman Upendra Yadav’s proposal for the constitution amendment. Though the RJPN seems close to Oli these days, it has also been demanding for an amendment regarding various issues, which Oli and the NCP have not agreed.


Meant to be a face-saver

kp sharma oli bamdev gautamPerhaps Oli himself is aware that the task force is nothing more than a face-saver to impress Gautam that the party is serious regarding his concern. Despite this awareness, Oli decided to raise the issue of amendment because it will strategically make him more powerful than his competitors in the party. As Oli has named Madhav Kumar Nepal as the chief of the panel when the demand for amendment is so unpopular, Oli hopes it will give an impression to the people that it is Nepal who wanted the amendment, not Oli. It means Oli can save himself from potential criticisms while blaming others.

Published on February 24th, Monday, 2020 10:11 AM

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