Madhes leaders reiterate amendment prior to poll date announcement
KATHMANDU, Jan 31: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday asked four questions to the agitating Madhes-based political parties with regard to ending the ongoing political deadlock and urged them to come up with clear answers.
The prime minister at a meeting with the leaders of the Madhes-based parties on Monday asked them what would be their reaction if the government made preparations for election and announced election date after completing the process for constitution amendment.
Likewise, Dahal asked the Madhes-based parties if they would participate in the elections even if the parliament rejected the amendment bill.
The prime minister also asked them whether or not the agitating parties would be ready for local polls if some reasonable changes are made to the report of the local level restructuring commission in line with their demands.
Similarly, the prime minister informed the Madhes-based leaders that the ruling coalition is ready to address their demand for making further changes to the amendment bill only on the issues of language of official business and removing village council chairperson, vice chairperson, municipality mayor and deputy-mayor from the electoral college, which elects members of the National Assembly.
Prime Minister Dahal also made it clear that the ruling coalition was not able to make any changes to the provincial delineation more than what has been proposed in the amendment bill but that he was ready to settle other delineation disputes through the Federal Delineation Commission.
Floating the aforementioned ideas, Dahal asked the Madhesi leaders to come up with clear answers at the next meeting, informed CPN (Maoist Center) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
Stating that the election process would take at least four months even after announcing the election date, Dahal tried to assure the agitating leaders that he would put in all efforts to ensure passage of the amendment bill within a month after announcing the election date.
However, Madhes-based leaders at the meeting, which saw heated exchanges, insisted that the prime minister must ensure passage of the amendment bill before declaring the election date.
According to National Madhes Socialist Party General Secretary Keshav Jha, the Madhesi leaders found Dahal’s questions contradictory among themselves. He said Dahal’s new proposals made them more suspicious about the ruling coalition’s sincerity toward addressing their demands.
“We have clearly put forth our demands. But we are not in a position to suggest you any solution. You are the one who has to come up with solutions. As we have been protesting against the constitution for long, we cannot agree on announcing election date until the constitution is amended,” Jha quoted Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) Chairman Mahantha Thakur as telling Dahal.
Thakur instead asked the prime minister to bring the main opposition CPN-UML on board the constitution amendment process. “There is no alternative to amending the constitution before announcing election date. If the government and major parties decided to head for election without amending the constitution, we’ll not only boycott the election but also disrupt it. We’ll be compelled to resume our protests and it could invite a situation where no state institutions other than army and police could function in the Madhes districts,” Thakur warned.
According to Jha, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Chairman Upendra Yadav was equally critical of the prime minister. He warned the prime minister that the Madhesi parties could withdraw their support to the government if their demands were not addressed at the soonest.
“The major three parties stand together when it comes to appointing their nominees in key state positions but when our demands are to be addressed they again stand together to deceive us. If the same situation is to continue, let’s part our ways, and we will take our own course,” Jha quoted Yadav as saying at the meeting.
During the meeting Jha suggested to the prime minister to first hold the election for provincial assemblies or the national elections instead of holding the local elections. “As we are demanding that the local units should be under the provinces, so we cannot agree to local election under the existing arrangement. If the constitution amendment is completed, we can start the election cycle with the election of provincial assemblies,” Jha said.
According to him, the Madhes-based parties have decided to hold a meeting and decide their official position.
The government has tabled a constitution amendment bill at the parliament despite strong objection of opposition parties but the Madhes-based parties are demanding for the further amendments on the bill.