Gathabandhan ‘gives’ 15 more days to govtAfter promising to table a constitution amendment proposal by Tuesday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was scrambling to cobble things up amid growing pressure from the agitating forces, which have even warned of withdrawing support to the government and launching fresh protests.
After promising to table a constitution amendment proposal by Tuesday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was scrambling to cobble things up amid growing pressure from the agitating forces, which have even warned of withdrawing support to the government and launching fresh protests.
But the Madhesi and Janajati parties, the forces that were exerting pressure on the government, on Monday came to Dahal’s rescue. The Sanghiya Gathabandhan, an alliance of the Madhesi and Janajati forces, on Monday served a 15-day “ultimatum” to PM Dahal to table the amendment proposal. The “ultimatum”, by extension, means Dahal has two more weeks to work on the amendment proposal.
During a meeting on Monday, Gathabandhan coordinator Upendra Yadav offered Dahal to take 15 more days. He, however, made it clear that the amendment proposal “must be acceptable to the agitating parties”.
“It’s meaningless to register an amendment proposal sans consensus. The proposal should be acceptable to all of us,” a Morcha leader quoted Yadav as telling Dahal.
Later in the day, Yadav issued a statement warning of nationwide protests “if the demands of the agitating parties are not met within the given deadline”.
Gathabandhan leaders said the agitating parties offered to extend the deadline in order to give the government the required time for proper homework and consultation. The government has not held consultation with the Madhesi leaders on the contents of the amendment. Many Madhesi leaders suspect the government could be on its way to table the proposal unilaterally.
PM Dahal has so far informed Madhesi leaders that the amendment proposal would seek to address four disputed issues of the constitution pertaining to revision of federal boundaries, citizenship, representation in Upper House and working language of provinces. But leaders of the agitating parties say they are still in dark about the details of the amendment proposal.
“We still don’t know how exactly the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre) want to resolve contentious issues like revision of federal boundaries and representation in the Upper House,” Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party Chairperson Mahantha Thakur told the Post.
It is not clear how far Dahal has reached regarding the amendment proposal.
But interlocutors from the Madhesi parties said PM Dahal has informally proposed another province in the western Tarai—from Nawalparasi to Bardiya—while offering to end the dispute over five Tarai districts in the East and West through a commission.
Dahal also appears willing to make changes to the provision pertaining to citizenship by removing the restriction on naturalised citizens to hold constitutional positions.
Meanwhile, Gathabandhan coordinator Yadav’s “unilateral decision” to give 15 days to the government to finalise the amendment proposal has irked some Madhesi leaders.
Some parties affiliated to the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, which with seven Madhes-based parties under it is a constituent of the Gathabandhan, had earlier warned of fresh protests in the event of failure on the part of the government to register the amendment proposal by mid-November.
These parties started boycotting Parliament from Friday to protest the delay in registering the amendment proposal.
“What is interesting is he [Yadav] didn’t even consult other leaders who had accompanied him to today’s meeting,” said a source close to Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato, who was present in the meeting. “He should have consulted other allies before taking such a decision,” said the source.