KATHMANDU, June 13: A standing committee meeting of CPN-UML on Wednesday assured the party´s dissident leaders that they wouldn´t be wronged just because they had raised voice of dissension within the party over state restructuring.
The standing committee also encouraged the disgruntled group to participate in the party mechanisms to float their differing views during intra-party discussions and be ready to sincerely implement the official decisions.
"This meeting makes it clear that any comrade in the party will not be wronged just for registering differing views in the party and will not be subjected to disciplinary action," said a statement issued by party secretary Bishnu Paudel after the meeting.
The meeting also praised party´s Vice-chairman Ashok Rai, who leads the dissident group in the party, for accepting the standing committee´s invitation to attend the meeting and put forth his views in writing. "The party has taken it as a positive step," said the statement issued by the party.
A group of influential leaders, including Rai, politburo members Prithivi Subba Gurung, Ram Chandra Jha and Bijay Subba, among others, from Madhesi, ethnic and indigenous communities have been boycotting the party meetings and activities.
While the leaders from ethnic communities have been lobbying for ethnic-based provinces in the new federal set up, the party´s top leaders fear that restructuring the state on the basis of ethnic identity may sow the seeds of racial and sectarian conflict in the country.
Positive gesture: Gurung
One of the key leaders in the dissident group, Prithivi Subba Gurung, described the standing committee´s decision as a positive gesture toward the proposal floated by Vice-chairman Rai on behalf of the dissident group. He demanded that the party now come up with a clear vision on state restructuring giving due recognition to the issue of ethnic identity.
"The leadership has at least acknowledged the proposal but we still in a wait and watch mood," said Gurung. "We will decide our next move after the party takes an official position on the issue in the next couple of days."
Leaders mulling seven-province model
UML leaders are mulling a seven-province model based on multi-ethnic identities.
A leader privy to the development said the ongoing standing committee meeting has taken up the issue raised by the dissident faction seriously and plans to float the party´s official stance on state restructuring at the party´s two-day national conclave starting June 18. Around 500 party representatives from across the country will participate in the gathering.
According to sources, the leaders are for delineating and naming provinces after the identities of at least two major ethnic communities and a neutral identity. The provinces under discussion are Koshi-Limbuwan-Kirant, Janakpur-Mithila-Bhojpura, Bagmati-Newa-Tamsaling, Lumbini-Tharuhat-Abadh, Gandaki-Tamuwan-Magarat, Seti-Mahakali and Karnali.