Ruling parties in bid to win over Madhesi partiesEven as the UCPN (Maoist)-led 22-party alliance continues to air its views against the joint proposal of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML on the contentious issues of new constitution
Senior leaders of the ruling parties, including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and UML chief KP Oli, have met Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik Chairperson Bijaya Gachhadar and Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) chief Mahanta Thakur among other senior Madhesi leaders.
The meetings are “confidence building” measures to bridge the trust deficit between them over the joint proposal put up by the coalition partners, according to leaders involved in negotiation. The Madhes-centric parties had turned down the proposal on contentious issues, including seven-province federal model, claiming that it “lacked federal spirit”.
The Madhesi parties have reiterated their call for an autonomous Madhes province as their “bottom line” for federal structure. They had hinted to go for two provinces in Madhes in their election manifesto for the Constituent Assembly elections last year. On the forms of government, all Madhesi parties, except Upendra Yadav’s Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal (MJF-N), are in favour of a Parliment-elected prime minister as executive head.
The ruling party leaders are trying to assuage the Madhesi leadership, saying that the proposal was not final and that their concerns could still be incorporated into it. Interlocutors maintain
that the ruling party leadership has realised that they have not had effective communication with the Madhesi leadership.
“Big parties failed to take Madhesi parties into confidence due to the lack of communication. Therefore, we are trying to explain to them why we floated the proposal. We need to make a genuine effort to take the Madhesi parties together,” said UML Chief Whip Agni Kharel. He also informed that senior UML leaders Jhala Nath Khanal and Madhav Nepal had met Sadhbhawana Party Parliamentary leader Laxman Lal Karna and MJF-N chief Upendra Yadav respectively.
The Madhesi leaders, however, maintain that the ruling parties demonstrate substantial commitment on the issue of federalism by upholding the previous agreements. “The Nepali Congress and UML have to uphold the past commitment made with the Madhesis and the provisions in the Interim Constitution,” said TMLP General Secretary Sarvendra Shukla.