KATHMANDU, May 17: A day after the major three parties -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML-- reached an agreement on contentious issues of constitution writing, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of five Madhes-based political parties, remains divided over whether to quit the government immediately.
According to leaders present at the meeting, top leaders of three constituent parties of UDMF -- Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Republican (MPRF-R), Sadbhawana Party (SP) and Tarai Madhes Democratic Party-Nepal (TMDP-N) -- have argued that the alliance should quit the government saying that three major parties betrayed them on the issue of federalism while the TMDP and MPRF-Democratic leadership were against the idea of quitting the government immediately.
Chairman of SP Rajendra Mahato, who is also the health minister, formally proposed in the meeting that they should withdraw support to the present government, if the three major parties put the 11-province model to vote in the Constituent Assembly (CA) as per the Tuesday´s agreement. “Either the 10- province model recommended by the State Restructuring Commission (SRC) or the 14-state model recommended by the CA thematic committee on state restructuring should be made a basis for drawing federal map of the country,” said Mahato, adding, “If the 11-provice mode is put to vote in the CA, we should quit the government and take to the streets.”
Acting MPRF-R Chairman and Information Minister Rajkishor Yadav also argued that it would be wise of the Madhesi alliance to quit the government. “They (major three parties) betrayed us on the number of provinces. So, we should quit the government,” a second-rung MPRF-R leader quoted Yadav as saying at the meeting.
Similarly, TMDP-N Chairman Mahendra Yadav, who is also the irrigation minister, argued that the Madhesi alliance should quit the government for the cause of Madhesi people.
However, TMDP Chairman Mahantha Thakur and MPRF-D Chairman Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, who is also the deputy prime minister and home minister, opposed the idea of quitting the government immediately. “We must consider all options and analyze the situation before taking any such decision,” another Madhesi leader quoted Thakur as saying at the meeting.
According to another Madhesi leader, Gachchhadar argued that quitting the government should be the last option. “Quitting the government is the final option for the Madhesi alliance. So, we must not quit the government now.”
General Secretary of MPRF-R Atmaram Sah said that the Madhesi alliance will decide whether or not to stay in government on Thursday.
“We will hold talks with the Maoist leadership tomorrow (Thursday) regarding its stance on the 11- province model,” said Sah, adding, “The Madhesi alliance will take a decision once we learn about what the Maoists really want.”
Second-rung Madhesi leaders took strong exception to the agreement on Tuesday between the three parties on the 11 province-model.
“The former king exercised extra constitutional powers, but the three major parties are now exercising super extra constitutional power,” maintained Vice-chairman of TMDP Briskheshchandra Lal, questioning the grounds on which the 11-province model was agreed upon.
Likewise, TMDP Joint General Secretary Jitendra Sonal argued that the Madhesi alliance should take stern steps if the rights of Madhesi, indigenous and other marginalized communities are not guaranteed in the new constitution.
“We reject the three-party agreement on 11-province model as the agreement was reached without following any procedure,” said Sonal, adding, “It will be meaningless to stay in the government and in the CA, if our concerns are not addressed.”
Even as the meeting of the alliance was on, cadres of the Madhes based parties had chanted slogans demanding that the alliance quit the government immediately.