The ruling CPN-UML and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal are said to have reached close to a deal on constitution amendment, a precondition set by the SSF-N to joining the KP Oli-led government.
According to leaders engaged in negotiations, both sides are working on a three-point agreement related to constitution amendment and allocation of ministries. They now need the top left alliance leaders’ nod to their proposal. “We are working to find a common position on the disputed issues,” said a UML leader. SSF-N Co-chair Rajendra Shrestha, who is actively involved in negotiations, said discussions on constitution amendment have been positive. “We are waiting for top leaders’ nod to strike a deal,” he said. The UML and the SSF-N intensified talks in the past few days on the agenda of constitution amendment and allocation of ministries to the Madhes-based party.
According to leaders, the UML has expressed its readiness to amend the constitution to meet the demands of the Madhes-based parties. Both the parties have agreed to address the SSF-N’s concerns either by amending the constitution or through a Cabinet decision. The issues could also be addressed by forming a task force, said Shrestha.
The SSF-N has demanded that Article 274 of the constitution be amended for creating more provinces. However, there has not been an agreement on the specific clauses the new government will be ready to amend. UML leader Subas Nembang said the two parties are likely to sign the agreement on Wednesday.
If the SSF-N, with 16 seats in the House of Representatives, joins the Cabinet, the Oli-led government will have a two-thirds majority. The left alliance of the UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) has 174 seats, which is 10 short of a two-thirds majority. With the SSF-N by its side, the Oli government will enjoy more than a two-thirds majority in the 275-strong House.
After the deal, SSF-N Chair Upendra Yadav will join the government. The party has demanded three ministers and the deputy speaker while the UML has offered two ministries including the foreign affairs portfolio.