Two-third majority lawmakers align to ‘cross floor’
KATHMANDU: The issues of federalism has brought divide between political parties and their lawmakers representing ethnicities: Madheshis, Dalits, Muslims and other groups that are vying for unitary-ethnic federal provinces.
A meeting of some lawmakers affiliated with the Joint Democratic Madheshi Front (JDMF), Adibasi Janjati Caucus, Dalit community, Muslim community and some independent lawmakers, teamed up to put joint struggle for ensuring autonomous federal provinces, equipped with right to autonomy and ethnic identity. Along with that, the joint meeting of these lawmakers has decided to vote in support of ethnic identity based federalism in the Constituent Assembly.
While 34 lawmakers have signed on the agreement, more are expected to join the cause. Of other signatories of the agreement, some are influential leaders from the lead political parties. Suresh Ale Magar and Barsha Man Pun from the Maoist, Jeep Chirring Sherpa, Prithvi Subba Gurung, and Lucky Sherpa from the Congress have agreed to the decision.
And from the JDMF, almost all lawmakers have agreed to support unitary-identity ethnic federalism. MJF-L President Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, TMLP Co-President Hyridesh Tripathi, TMLP-N’s Mahendra Prasad Yadav, Sadhbhavana’s Rajendra Mahato, MJF-L’s Raj Kishore Yadav, Sanghiya Sadbhavana’s Anil Kumar Jha and independent lawmaker Sadrul Miya Haque have pledged their allegiance to the alliance that endorsed a four point charter.
The charter has demanded to guarantee the promulgation of the new constitution by May 27 and to restructure the nation along unitary-identity federal provinces.
“We have agreed to lobby for unitary-ethnic identity federalism,” UML Lawmaker Prithvi Subba Gurung said.
Along with that, the alliance has demanded the restructuring of the nation and division of state power be based on the recommendations made by the CA’s thematic committees and the report tabled by the High Level Commission on State Restructuring. They have decided to vote in support of unitary-ethnic identity based federalism if proposals of state restructuring were tabled by brushing aside the recommendations, put forward by the committee and the commission.
Though Maoist Chief Whip Dev Gurung has not signed the agreement, he expressed confidence that the party won’t work against the spirit of its lawmakers and even warned that “they would go against any whips of the party that did not address their concerns.” Gurung even claimed that the cause will be supported by lawmakers from other parties too.
MJF-L’s Tripati also claimed that the alliance will move forward with strong determination and secure unitary-ethnic identity federal states and warned that they would cross the floor against party orders.
“We are not talking about protesting together on the streets. We are talking about standing together in the House. It means, crossing the floor,” Tripathi said.
The alliance has further requested for presenting the disputed issues in the CA for resolving them through voting. With the support of the Maoists lawmakers, the alliance has claimed that it has the support of two third majorities in the House.
“Now we have a clear support of two third majorities in the House,” MJF-G’s acting Chairman Raj Kishor Yadav said.
Madheshi parties have 183 lawmakers, and the Caucus has 218 lawmakers. Of the total lawmakers affiliated to the Caucus, 104 are from the Maoists, 37 from the Congress and 40 from the UML.
The alliance has materialized at a time when lead parties are confronting each other over the issue. And though these lawmakers have been piling up pressure within their respective parties for unitary-ethnic identity federal states, their inter-party alliance on the issue, has put them in direct confrontation with lead parties.
Alarmed by the alliance, parties have also hinted at taking stern actions against all those lawmakers who defy party decisions. A source near UML informed that the party was planning to expel lawmakers from proportional quotas, if they supported unitary-ethnic identity federalism by going against party’s guidelines.
In their discussions convened till late night on Wednesday, Maoist and Madheshi parties had supported unitary-ethnic identity federal states, while Congress and UML had supported multiple identity federal states. Owing to this confrontation between them, the issue of federalism has been complicated by the day.