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4 parties to take charter process, talks together

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
MJF-L leader says Madhes should have two provinces

Aug 31, 2015-Four major parties Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik have decided to take the statute drafting process and dialogue with the agitating parties together.

One of the preconditions set by the agitating Madhes-based parties and Tharu groups is to halt the ongoing constitution drafting process in the Constituent Assembly. With more conditions, formal negotiations between the government and the agitators could be delayed. The four parties are, therefore, planning to address the demands at the political level.

The agitating parties are of the view that constitution drafting should be moved through consensus among the parties in the CA by halting the ongoing process. A meeting of the four parties held at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar on Sunday decided that the demands such as the Army’s withdrawal from riot

zones and free treatment for injured could be considered. NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel confirmed the decision.

As the ‘olive branch’ offered by the government did not attract the agitating forces, the parties decided to appeal to them to come to the negotiating table once again. The three-day time given by PM Koirala to the protesters to join talks expired on Saturday with no substantial outcome.

If the agitating parties/groups are ready for dialogue, the Special Committee of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee will discuss the issues with them.

While formal talks between the government and the agitating Tharu groups are yet to begin, the parties have begun consultations to find a way to address the demands of the Tharus in Kailali. One option being discussed is to split the Tharu-dominated part of Kailali to be merged with a Madhes province. According to sources, senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML leader Bhim Rawal, who had opposed the idea, are now flexible on their stance.

The NC and the UML will push the option if Deuba and Rawal indeed relent on their opposition. The MJF-Loktantrik, however, is also pressing for resolving the dispute over the East districts with Tharu populations. “A piecemeal solution will give way to more conflict. We are of the view that the parties should go for two provinces in Madhes, addressing the demands in both eastern and western Madhes,” said MJF-L leader Jitendra Dev.

He, however, said his party would not object if the people in Kailali accepted the proposal. “Before taking a decision, the four parties need to talk with both Tharu and undivided Far West stakeholders,” said Dev. But the NC and the UML are not ready to revisit the boundaries of other provinces in Madhes. The UCPN (M), the third largest party, feels that the Tharus’ demands need to be addressed immediately even if the concerns of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha could not be addressed right away.

“We are pressing the UML to address the demands of the Kailali people at least,” said Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha. A three-party meeting held earlier on Sunday decided to make efforts to hold dialogue with the Tharuhat and Madhesi protesters.

Published: 31-08-2015 08:29

More on this story

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik is ready to own up the seven-province model if the major parties agree to form two provinces in the Tarai: Nawalparasi to Kailali districts in the West and Parsa to Morang in the East, party Vice-chairman Jitendra Narayan Dev has said.
In an interview with the Post on Sunday, Dev said that Kanchanpur, Chitwan and Jhapa could be incorporated with the Hill provinces.
“It could be a lasting solution to all the ongoing problems as it settles disputes once and for all.
It would also silence those who think that Hill states need passage to the country’s southern border,” said Dev.
While emphasising that it would be more pragmatic to keep Kailali intact, Dev said the district could also be divided between the hills and the plains for the sake of consensus. Khutiya River that flows east of Attariya could be used as the mean to split the district into the two geographies. That will keep Dhangadhi and Attariya in the Hill province.
“Major parties should take representatives of both the local Tharu and Pahadi populations into confidence by reaching the ground. We are ready to play our role for that and own up such a pact,” said Dev.
Expansion of the proposed Province 2 from Parsa to Biratnagar would address the demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties. He said Biratnagar could be the administrative capital, Janakpur the cultural capital and Birgunj the industrial capital.
Dev said that CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli and NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula in the East and NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML leader Bhim Rawal in the West were both the problem and solution in the ongoing crisis.

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