Top leaders’ meeting falls apart after PM Oli snapsTalks between top leaders of the major parties and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) on Thursday entered a cul-de-sac after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli ruled out the possibility of endorsing the Constitution Amendment Bill in line with the Morcha’s demands.
Talks between top leaders of the major parties and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) on Thursday entered a cul-de-sac after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli ruled out the possibility of endorsing the Constitution Amendment Bill in line with the Morcha’s demands.
PM Oli even blamed the main opposition Nepali Congress “for registering the bill without consulting his party CPN-UML” when the NC was leading the government and the UML was coalition partner.
The Congress-led government on October 8 had registered the bill at the Parliament Secretariat, but the bill was tabled in Parliament on December 15 when the UML was in power.
PM Oli himself had called the meeting of top leaders of the ruling parties, the main opposition and the SLMM to find ways to ensure smooth endorsement of the bill, which is set to be put to vote on Saturday.
During the meeting, Morcha leaders had reiterated their demands—making population the sole basis for electoral constituencies, revision in population clusters entitled to special protection from the state, reserving five seats for marginalised and excluded communities for federal provinces and redrawing federal boundaries among others.
According to sources, the meeting was moving forward smoothly until PM Oli snapped, accusing the NC of registering the bill without consulting the UML.
“I don’t know who registered the bill,” sources quoted PM Oli as saying. “I have heard it was the Congress and others [who registered it].” Then he asked Upendra Yadav, chairman of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal, “Will it [the bill] serve Morcha’s purpose?” Yadav, in response, is learnt to have said the bill does not serve agitating parties’ purpose.
According to the sources, NC President Sushil Koirala then stepped in and objected to Oli’s charges. He defended the move of registering the bill by his government, saying that it was done based on NC and UML’s decision, which was approved by then home minister Bamdev Gautam.
The meeting was then
PM Oli urged Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, who is also the chair of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, and Dil Nath Giri of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal to leave the meeting. NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel requested both not to leave the meeting, but they refused. The meeting ended amid tension.
PM Oli later said it was
not possible to meet Morcha’s all demands.
Morcha leaders, however, said they were not ready to accept the bill unless their concerns were addressed.
“This government cannot address the demands of indigenous Janajati and Madhesi people,” Yadav said after the meeting. “The major parties need to show flexibility and seriousness.”
Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Vice-chair Hridayesh Tripathi said the meeting only “eroded the trust that taskforce had built during nine rounds of meeting”.
Leaders of the three major parties said that they would continue to engage Madhesi leadership in talks to end the deadlock. “There has been an understanding to make changes either in the language or content of the bill in order to address Morcha’s concerns,” said UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chair Narayan Kaji Shrestha.