Agree to continue negotiations with agitating parties
KATHMANDU, April 17: Two ruling parties --Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist Center) - have reached an informal understanding to hold the local level election on the stipulated date even if the agitating parties united under the Federal Alliance (FA) do not come on board.
The understanding was reached during a meeting held between Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba at the prime minister's official residence at Baluwatar, Sunday morning.
The prime minister had invited NC President Deuba for discussions amid the decision of the various agitating parties including the Madhes-based parties to unveil a series of protests, apparently to foil the May 14 local-level polls. The prime minister had grown apprehensive over the NC's stance on polls due to conflicting statements by its top leaders.
During a meeting held at party headquarters at Sanepa on Saturday, most NC lawmakers, central members and district presidents representing Province-2 had maintained that the party should go to elections only after the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) is brought on board the election process. While stating that they are putting in their best efforts to bring them on board, Deuba had said that they were even ready to defer the election in Madhes districts for a few days if the UDMF was ready to join the poll process.
On the prime minister's query about his position on the local-level elections, NC President Deuba had clarified that local polls must be held within the stipulated date. "I had told the meeting that elections could be deferred for a few days in Madhes districts if the agitating Madhesi parties guarantee their participation," senior Maoist Center leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha quoted Deuba as telling the prime minister.
Maoist Center leaders had also inquired with NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel on his stance on local-level polls on May 14.
Although they reached the understanding to hold the polls within the stipulated date even if the agitating parties do not join in, the top leaders of the ruling parties have decided to continue negotiations with the agitating parties. "Our efforts to bring the agitating parties on board will continue till the end," Shrestha further said.
However, both NC and Maoist Center leaders are hardly optimistic that they will eventually reach an agreement with the Madhes-based parties. During a phone conversation with Maoist Center leaders on Sunday, Chairman of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal (FSFN-N) Upendra Yadav had asked the government to unveil a fresh amendment bill as per their suggestions, after withdrawing the amendment bill tabled in parliament last week.
A senior NC leader, who is sympathetic towards the demands of Madhesi parties, said consensus looks elusive as the Madhes-based parties are floating new demands. "While we should try to persuade the agitating parties through a constitutional amendment to participate in the election, it is not in the interest of anyone to defer the election just because there is no agreement with certain parties," he said, while asking not to be named.