KATHMANDU, April 4:After rounds of informal negotiations to end the ongoing political stalemate failed to make any progress, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is exploring the possibility of holding the local polls in two phases and seeking a consensus among the big parties over this.
At least four party leaders privy to recent political developments said that Dahal is reaching out to the ruling and opposition parties to seek support for deferring the polls in Province 2.
Dahal has already floated the proposal to the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML leadership. Both these parties have rejected the idea so far, the leaders said.
Dahal reportedly pitched idea of polls in two phases upon the insistence of the Madhesi parties which have so far refused to come on board the elections. The Madhesi parties have insisted that they would contest the elections only if their demands are addressed.
Their demands include constitution amendment, another increment in the number of local level bodies in Province 2 and formation of a powerful federal commission to resolve current and future disputes over boundaries.
Though Dahal had announced that he would come up with a concrete proposal by Sunday, he failed to do so as the Madhesi parties have refused to budge.
“They are demanding an increase in the number of local level units and updating of the voter rolls before the polls take place. Dahal is still holding talks to address their demands,” said CPN (Maoist Center) spokesperson Pampha Bhusal, who is also involved in the informal negotiations. Updating the voter rolls could take months, according to the Election Commission, while realigning the local boundaries would be equally time-consuming.
She said the CPN (Maoist Center) remained committed to holding the local polls in one phase but did not rule out the possibility of polls in two phases.
“It’s too early to say anything on this issue as negotiations are in progress. To date, the original position of our party that elections should be held throughout the nation on May 14 remains unchanged,” said Bhusal.
Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have objected to the proposal, saying deferring the polls in Province-2 would only deepen the crisis.
“The polls should be held throughout the nation on May 14. We will do whatever it takes to ensure polls in a single phase,” said UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai.
Nepali Congress, the largest party in parliament which was initially lobbying to go to polls after addressing the concerns of the Madhesi parties, has also categorically rejected polls in two different phases.
“Nepali Congress strongly believes that there is a need to address genuine grievances. But issues related to the constitution and local polls should not be mixed. We should take both processes forward simultaneously,” said Nepali Congress leader and Minister for Infrastructure Planning and Transport Ramesh Lekhak.