Parties in talks, but challenges dog statuteThree major parties and Madhes-based parties have engaged in informal talks, but a political solution to end the ongoing protests in Madhes remains a far cry with neither side willing to compromise on their positions.
Three major parties and Madhes-based parties have engaged in informal talks, but a political solution to end the ongoing protests in Madhes remains a far cry with neither side willing to compromise on their positions.
The agitating Madhesi parties and Tharu groups have set preconditions—a halt to the ongoing constitution drafting process, public commitment from the major parties to implement the past pacts and withdrawal of Nepal Army from riot-hit districts—before they sit for formal talks with the major parties.
A three-party meeting on Thursday, however, decided not to stop the ongoing constitution drafting process.
During deliberations on the draft constitution in the CA, top leaders reiterated that they are ready to address the genuine concerns of the protesting parties while insisting that the drafting process will not stop. “Three-party meeting concluded that the ongoing process could not be stopped for the sake of talks with dissident parties,” Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said after the meeting. The three parties, however, hinted that the process could be delayed for some time if there is substantial progress in talks with the agitating parties.
Addressing the demands raised by the Madhesi and Tharu parties is another big challenge. Though the UCPN (Maoist) is pushing for change in the seven-province model as sought by the Tharu and Madhesi communities, the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are in favour of minor changes.
In the three-party meeting on Thursday, UML Chairman KP Oli reiterated that his party cannot go for eight provinces as proposed by the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Lokatantrik. The ruling parties maintain that a federal commission proposed in the draft constitution will address all the demands after promulgation of the charter.
“If all the issues are not addressed right now, the commission can take up those demands as seven- province model is not final one,” said NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel.
But with the big three taking different positions, a consensus with dissent parties remains a big challenge.
The UCPN (Maoist) leadership is under pressure from its leaders to address the demands of Madhesi, Tharu and Janajati constituencies. Madhesi leaders of the party have suggested two provinces in Tarai/Madhes to address the demands of Madhesis and Tharus.
Maoist leaders Ram Chandra Jha, Bisonath Sah, Ram Kumar Sharma, Ramrijan Yadav, and Mahendra Yadav have lent their support to the protests launched by the Madhes-based parties. They have also informed about their agitation to party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Baburam Bhattarai.
At a press meet in the Capital on Thursday, they made public their demands which will be submitted to the government and parties in the CA. Among the demands are the withdrawal of decision to mobilise army, declaring martyrs who died during the protests. They have also said that federal units should be carved on the basis of viability and identity.
Jha said the major parties should seek a political solution to address the Tharu movement. “The seven-province model has been carved without any basis which sparked the protests,” he said, calling the parties to address the genuine concerns of the agitating forces.
Dispatching a letter, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has invited the disgruntled parties to come for a formal talk with three days beginning from Thursday.
Top leaders of Madhes-based parties are publicly making such positions as well.