NC lawmakers from Tarai warn of walkout

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Sep 9, 2015-

Dozens of Nepali Congress lawmakers representing Tarai region have warned the party leadership that they would walk out of the constitution process if their demands and grievances were not addressed.

Around 40 lawmakers on Tuesday demanded the party leadership halt the constitution drafting process for another 10 days to address the demands of Madhesis, Tharus and other marginalised groups. They have also urged the party leadership to withdraw the Nepal Army currently deployed in Tarai to set the stage for meaningful talks.  

A disgruntled lawmaker said they had decided to submit a memorandum to CA Chair Subas Chandra Nembang on Wednesday morning, with a mention that they will be forced to leave the constitution process if their demands are not met.

They held discussions with the party leadership, including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, urging immediate steps to address their demands through the amendment proposal. The lawmakers have been demanding three provinces in Tarai, inclusion of Madhesis, Tharus, Dalits, Janajatis, women in the constitution drafting process to ensure the deprived communities’ representations in various state organs. They were later joined by NC leaders Dr Shekhar Koirala and Arjun Narsingh KC in the Baluwatar meeting.

Then they held a separate meeting where they decided to submit their demands to the CA chair, with a warning of walkout from the process if the demands are not meet.

Earlier at an NC office bearers meeting, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Management Bimalendra Nidhi had advised the party leadership halt the constitution drafting process at least for another 10 days to address the demands of various constituencies. “Let’s make a fresh start by renewing the call for talks and start talks with the agitating parties,” said Nidhi.

Referring to several security officials posted in Tarai districts, Nidhi told the meeting that the law and order situation was worsening by the day and could get out of hand if the problem was not addressed on time.

But the meeting decided not to halt the constitution drafting process. “We know the grievances and demands of various constituencies are genuine. We are also not happy with the draft constitution, neither do the UML and Maoists. But we don’t have other alternative,” said NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel.

NC leader KC told the Post that he had urged the party’s Tarai-based lawmakers not to leave the constitution process. But they keep their foot down. “Once the leadership agrees to address our demands, we will return. Otherwise, we have decided to leave the process on Wednesday,” said a Madhes-based lawmaker.

Published: 09-09-2015 08:34

More on this story

Deliberations on draft constitutions and amendment proposals started in the Constituent Assembly on Tuesday as the Madhes-based parties boycotted the whole process demanding revision of the proposal of federal set-up in accordance with past agreements.
The Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJF-L) also formally walked out of the statute drafting process (See interview on Pg 3).
Submitting a memorandum to Constituent Assembly Chairman Subas Kumar Nembang, MJF-L leaders said the party cannot participate in the process as the CA has failed to heed voices of Tharu, Madhesi and excluded groups.
“We will return to the process if the major parties agree on eight province federal setup with three provinces in Tarai. We are ready to adopt maximum flexibility on number and nitty-gritty,” said Ram Janam Chaudhary, MJF-L General Secretary. The party has 14 CA members in the CA.  MJF-L leaders said the party is ready to accept even two provinces in Tarai keeping some Tarai districts into hills.
“This constitution is going to divide people, instead of uniting them. It will be a great mistake if parties promulgate new statute ignoring aspiration of millions of Madhesi and Tharu people,” said Mahanta Thakur, chairman of Tarai Madhesh Loktantrik Party, adding that people in Madhes are harboring feeling of betrayal and isolation from overall political process. His party has eleven lawmakers in the CA.
Meanwhile, UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday held a phone conversation with Thakur to learn about the position of Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha to come on board the statute drafting process. He also asked the major parties first to make constructive environment toward that end.
“I clearly told him that we cannot join the process unless past agreements are addressed,” Thakur said. He said he asked Dahal to first lift emergency, send Nepal Army to barracks, announce those dying in protest as martyr, and provide medical support injured.
“We cannot own this constitution unless our demand for a separate Tharuhat/Tharuwan province is guarantee,” said Rukmani Chaudhary, sole CA member from Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch (Tharuhat).
Addressing the CA, Mahendra Yadav, chairman of Tarai Madhesh Sadbhawana Party-Nepal demanded that there must be ten provinces with two in Tarai plains.
Similarly, MJF-N, Sadbhawana Party (SP), Tarai Madhesh Sadbhawana Party-Nepal, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum- Ganatantrik, National Madhes Socialist Party, Nepal Sadabhawana Party and Tharuhat Tarai Party Nepal were among the parties boycotting the Tuesday’s process.
Only five parties had own seats under first-past-the-post category while other parties have lawmakers under proportional representation system. MJF-N has 15 CA members while SP has six.

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