The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has abandoned its stand for gender equality less than a week after its President Sher Bahadur Deuba tweeted urging the government to not draw a line of discrimination between women and men.
Deuba had tweeted so last Wednesday just three days after the discriminatory citizenship bill was passed by the State Affairs Committee of the parliament despite dissenting opinion of NC. Deuba had invited NC Vice-president Bimalendra Nidhi, and central members Dilendra Prasad Badu, Rameh Lekhak, Gagan Thapa and others for discussion on the seven-year provision for matrimonial naturalized citizenship earlier on the day.
"Let's not draw a line of discrimination between women and men. Our Constitution has guaranteed equality between women and men. More rights for sons and less for daughters is not, and should not be, acceptable in the current time and society," his first tweet in the series of three read.
"We should not draw a line of discrimination in a way that foreign women marrying Nepali men get citizenship but foreign men marrying Nepali women don't," read the second tweet. "I, therefore, urge ruling CPN to amend the provision brought in a way that makes women second-class citizens, and to move the citizenship bill in a way that there is no discrimination on the basis of gender and is in accordance to the concept and spirit of equality," read the third.
But Deuba did not defend his stand for equality in the central committee meeting held on Tuesday just six days after those tweets.
The majority of members during the meeting opined that the party should reject the seven-year provision while those from the Madhesh pointed that the provision will create practical problems and called for continuation of the decades-old provision that discriminated between the genders.
A few central members including Gagan Thapa, who has been publicly advocating for equal rights, and Pradeep Paudel opined that the matrimonial naturalized citizenship provision should be kept in a way that there is no discrimination but Deuba did not utter a word for equality.
"A few central members talked about the president's tweets. But he did not present the content of his tweets as a stand," Paudel told Setopati. "We opined that we can move forward on another way as an alternative to the provision of the bill or the party's stand. But the party decided to continue the existing line."
The tweets of NC President Deuba, in this way, remained just tweets for public consumption as the issue could not even become the meeting's agenda. The party took exception to the seven-year provision replacing the previous provision of immediately providing naturalized citizenship certificate to foreign women marrying Nepali men, and decided to oppose it deeming that the seven-year problem creates hassles in the Madhesh that the party considers to be its vote bank.
"The NC central committee demands withdrawal of the anti-Constitution citizenship amendment bill the government presented and this meeting instructs the parliamentary party to act accordingly in the House," the central committee decision reads.