After weeks of talks, it’s back to square oneContentious issues again in top leadership’s lap
After talks at the taskforce level failed to yield any result, representatives of the three major parties and the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) have agreed to hand over the contentious issues of the constitution to the top leadership to find a solution to ongoing political standoff.
Taskforces formed by the three major parties—the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the UCPN (Maoist)—and the agitating SLMM had held nine rounds of closed-door negotiations in the past three weeks to find a point of compromise on contentious issues of the constitution, including state boundaries.
The SLMM on Tuesday even formally decided to dissolve its taskforce, which had Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP)’s Hridayesh Tripathi, Rajendra Shrestha of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal and Ram Naresh Raya of Tarai Madhes Sadhbhawana Party as members, saying that the taskforce had outlived its usefulness.
“The taskforce was very successful in getting a fix on each other’s views,” said Tripathi, who is also the vice-chair of the Tarai Madhes Lokantrik Party (TMLP), during a press meet organised to inform about the dissolution of the taskforce. “We were even close to resolving many issues. But we are back to where we had started, as the taskforce could not take any concrete decision on issues,” Tripathi added. “There is a need of negotiations at the top level now,” said Laxman Lal Karna, co-chair of Sadbhawana Party.
Major parties, however, have not made any comment about its taskforce which had NC’s Mahesh Acharya, UML’s Bhim Rawal and UCPN (M)’s Krishna Bahadur Mahara as the members. One key difference that stood as a stumbling block during the talks of the taskforces of both sides was legality and terms of reference of the proposed high-level political mechanism for revision of federal boundaries.
Both sides had earlier reached an agreement, in principle, to form a high-level political mechanism to address the boundary issues within three months.
Taskforce members and leaders from both sides
had earlier claimed that a deal was likely before January 19 (Tuesday)
But when the Morcha submitted its six-point non-paper, a condensed version of its 11-point demand, on Sunday to major parties, top leaders were said to be a bit annoyed, with Prime Minster KP Sharma Oli and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal expressing reservations about the Morcha’s demand.
The Morcha, through the six-point non-paper, had insisted that there should be one more schedule in the constitution to mention “the timeline and terms of references of the high-level political mechanism”.
Morcha negotiators have said that the terms of reference should mention two provinces in the Tarai or at least an unequivocal pledge that the Tharu and Madhesi clusters would be kept intact while drawing up the boundaries. Another key issue that remains to be settled is representation of the federal province in the national assembly. Morcha leaders said that population should be made the sole basis for representation in the national assembly, besides allocating five seats each to all provinces for women, marginalised and excluded communities.