KATHMANDU, April 28: A day after reaching 'an understanding’ with the UML to roll back a decision to increase the number of local bodies, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday assured Madhesi leaders that these bodies would be increased at least in the Madhesi stronghold of the terai plains before the local polls take place.
Prime Minister Dahal said this during a meeting between the government and the agitating Madhesi parties held at his residence at Baluwatar. During the meeting, top leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal had asked Prime Minister Dahal about the reported agreement between the government and the UML on the issue of local body boundaries.
Dahal did not deny the understanding reached with UML leaders but told the Madhesi leaders that there was 'partial truth' in what was reported in the media.
“It became difficult to reach a political consensus on increasing the number of local bodies in all districts of the terai plains. That’s why we pitched for an alternative proposal to increase them only in the 11 districts. The UML leadership has hinted at supporting this proposal,” a Madhesi leader present at the meeting quoted Dahal as saying. .
Besides Dahal, Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa, CPN (Maoist Center) leader Barshaman Pun and others were also present at the meeting.
The Madhesi parties have been demanding an increase in the number of local bodies in all terai districts before the local polls slated for May 14. But the leaders present at Thursday's meeting informed that adding a number of local units in the Madhesi stronghold was good enough for them.
Rastriya Janata Party Nepal leader Anil Kumar Jha told Republica that the Madhesi parties were ready to show flexibility on the number of local bodies.
“We know that Prime Minister Dahal is under pressure from the opposition. We are ready to help him with a political consensus if he is earnest about sorting out all the differences. But the row over boundaries should end before the polls,” said Jha. Besides Jha, several other top leaders of the newly formed Rastriya Janata Party Nepal including Rajendra Mahato and Sarad Singh Bhandari had attended the meeting.
Brikesh Chandra Lal, another leader of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, said that the Madhesi parties were in favour of an amicable and acceptable solution of all the problems.
“It would be nice if the government endorses the constitution amendment bill with the support of the UML. But the government should not step back from its repeated commitments even if UML opposes it,” said Lal.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Dahal also informed about the government’s preparations to put the amendment bill to a vote in parliament very soon. Dahal has called an all-party meeting on Friday to make a last ditch effort to garner consensus over the bill. The main opposition UML and some fringe parties have opposed the bill. On Thursday, the opposition parties decided to do 'whatever it takes to foil’ the bill.
“PM Dahal is still in discussions with both the agitating parties and the main opposition. The bill would be pushed through parliament in a fast-track process, possibly after the all-party meeting on Friday,” PM Dahal said in a statement.