Tarai parties warn of quitting talksMadhesi parties threatened on Saturday to abandon talks with the government if the ruling parties failed to lay out a concrete plan on state delineation.
Shyam Sundar Shashi
Madhesi parties threatened on Saturday to abandon talks with the government if the ruling parties failed to lay out a concrete plan on state delineation.
The parties, which launched an agitation three months ago demanding greater autonomy for the Madhesi community, said they have decided not to continue with the dialogue if their next meeting with the government team on Sunday does not make a significant breakthrough. The remarks follow a frustratingly slow progress in talks amid a deepening gulf between the two sides due to their differing positions on the federal boundaries.
“It would be futile to stick to talks if the government does not show sincerity in the next meeting,” said Mahantha Thakur, chairman of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. He said the government would have to go to Madhes if its indecisiveness persists in the next sitting too.
Thakur and a dozen Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) leaders including Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav and Sadbhawana Chairman Rajendra Mahato held a strategic meeting in Janakpur on Saturday. Leaders said the meeting primarily discussed the Morcha’s bottom line for agreement and further steps if the talks fail.
Yadav said the rounds of futile talks had raised serious questions on the government’s intention. He said they would be left with no choice but to intensify protests if the government failed to meet their demands.
Madhesi parties have been obstructing some border points including the Birgunj-Raxaul passage, creating a shortage of essential commodities, mainly fuel.
“One thing is clear that the government is not being honest. It’s futile to talk if the government has no intention of addressing our demands,” said Yadav.
On Thursday, interlocutors from both the sides had agreed to come up with a “clear cut position” on state delineation.
The Tarai parties have set two provinces along the plains as their official position. But during talks with the government, leaders have agreed to split some disputed districts such as Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Mahottari, Nawalparasi, Kailali and Kanchanpur between the plains and Hill provinces.
The government has yet to come up with its clear position on redrawing the federal map. Major party leaders, however, have been saying that the concerns of all the agitating groups would be addressed as recommended by a commission.
Interlocutors from both the sides said the talks were able to narrow down the differences on the other disputed issues of inclusive and proportional representation in state bodies and delimitation of electoral constituencies based on the population. TMLP Vice-chairman Hridayesh Tripathi said the government has agreed to come up with its position on the delineation of federal provinces, which is their primary demand.
“We will take further decision depending on the outcome of dialogue,” said Tripathi, a member of the SLMM talks team.