Big 3 seek common ground on federalismWithout a common position on revising the federal set-up, three major parties struggle to reach consensus on how to respond to the Madhesi demand on demarcation.
Without a common position on revising the federal set-up, three major parties struggle to reach consensus on how to respond to the Madhesi demand on demarcation.
As a result, talks on addressing the Tarai agitation have floundered for weeks. Nearly three months after protests broke out in the plains, the major parties have finally begun a serious attempt to find their common stance on revising the state delineation.
Who stands where
A key section of the Nepali Congress and Prime Minister K P Oli are still unwilling to split the disputed districts of Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur between Hill and Tarai provinces as demanded by the Madhes-based parties.
The CPN-UML maintains that there cannot be any more province comprised solely of Tarai districts. “We are ready to make a political commitment if it helps to build trust with the agitating parties,” said Prime Minister’s Chief Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal. UML leaders said they do not want to reopen the disputes on the five districts. The ruling party is ready only for a political commitment now.
NC, the largest party which is in the opposition, wants the ruling coalition to float a proposal first. “If the ruling parties present their concrete position on demarcation, we are ready to discuss it,” said NC spokesman Dilendra Prasad Badu. He, however, cautioned that other sections of the population could protest if the borders were redrawn to accommodate the demands of one section.
The UCPN (Maoist) is ready to address the demands raised by the Tarai parties. The third largest party, in principle, accepts two provinces in the plains. The Maoists argue that the disputed districts could be split to the liking of the regional parties and the Tharus.
The Maoist party held separate talks with top leaders of the NC, UML and the Madhes-based parties on Monday. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha also held consultations with Madhesi civil society and intellectuals to explore a middle path.
The PM had a discussion with NC Acting President Ram Chandra Poudel, seeking the party’s support to resolve the crisis. But the UCPN (M) and the Bijaya Gachhadar-led Madhesi front continue to press Oli to change his stance on demarcation.