Hardline Maoists oppose subcommittee decisions again
THIRA L BHUSAL
KATHMANDU, Jan 20: Three weeks after UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal reiterated that his party would not backtrack on any agreement reached at the dispute resolution subcommittee under the Constitutional Committee (CC), Maoist Chief Whip Dev Gurung and other Maoist leaders stood against the subcommittee´s proposals tabled for endorsement at the CC meeting on Thursday.
The Constituent Assembly (CA)´s CC failed to endorse any proposal owing to stiff opposition at the meeting by Gurung, Jaypuri Gharti and Sarala Regmi, all three from the Maoist hardline faction.
Earlier, party leaders at the subcommittee, which is headed by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal himself, had agreed to keep the new constitution silent on any ceiling for land and property ownership by Nepali citizens, among other provisions.
Gurung said the constitution must fix a ceiling on land and property ownership if the concept of revolutionary land reforms is to be implemented.
"The state should be able to enforce a limit on property and a ceiling on land ownership as and when it deems necessary," Gurung said while emerging from the CC meeting. "We are also against any proposal to provide compensation to landlords for confiscating land in excess of ceiling."
Those on the subcommittee had earlier agreed to leave the new statute silent on any land and property ownership ceiling, saying this was not something to be mentioned in a constitution. They agreed to formulate laws for the purpose.
Nepali Congress (NC) parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Paudel said the Maoist lawmakers have rendered the CC ineffective by standing against the subcommittee´s proposals.
"We are disappointed that friends of the (subcommittee) coordinator have themselves repeatedly objected to subcommittee decisions. The CC has often been brought back to square one as Maoist lawmakers time and again backtrack on past agreements," said Paudel.
Maoist Chief Whip Gurung also insisted on incorporating a provision making military training mandatory for all Nepali citizens above 18 years of age at the call of the government whereas others on the subcommittee had agreed not to mention this in the new constitution.
Maoist lawmakers from the hardline faction were also adamant that the appellation ´People´s Liberation Army´ must be mentioned under the section on the Nepal Army (NA) in the new constitution even though leaders on the subcommittee had earlier found that redundant.
"The new constitution must mention that the national army was formed after integrating the Maoist People´s Liberation Army into the Nepal Army," Gurung said.
But CC members from other parties said Gurung´s demand is in contravention of Dahal´s commitments.
"Dahal himself had proposed at the subcommittee meeting not to mention ´People´s Liberation Army´ as the constitution is to be promulgated only after completion of the peace process and the PLA will no longer be in existence then," said CC member Agni Kharel of CPN-UML.
The Maoist hardliners are also against a subcommittee decision to incorporate a provision in the new constitution allowing formulation of laws on serious crimes with retroactive effect. Such laws would cover crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
Gurung stated that the Maoist lawmakers aired their views at the CC meeting as per instructions from their party chairman. But Maoist Chairman Dahal had earlier told media that the subcommittee had resolved all the remaining disputes except for a couple of issues.
Gurung further claimed that Dahal is for forwarding the unresolved issues for voting by the 601-seat CA in full session. Dahal was absent from Thursday´s CC meeting.
The CC, which is entrusted with preparing an integrated draft of the new constitution, formed the subcommittee under Dahal with a mandate to resolve contentious issues. Top leaders from major political parties are members of the dispute settlement panel.