One good move
- Recent events indicate that govt is working to resolve the crisis in Tarai
Nov 12, 2015-
Even as protests in the Tarai continue and the movement of supplies to Nepal from India remains severely disrupted, there are some signs that the ruling parties are now more willing to negotiate with the Madhesi parties than in the recent past. The first positive indication came when Prime Minister KP Oli decided to postpone his address to the nation until a compromise on the Madhes is reached. In addition, both CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) leaders have said that they are now amenable to Madhesi demands to ensure proportional and inclusive representation, as well as to allow for the delineation of constituencies to be based on population. While the parties have not yet managed to agree on how this will be incorporated into the constitution, these are matters that can be addressed with some give-and-take.
The most contentious issue continues to be the delineation of boundaries between provinces. Here too, there has been some incremental progress in the perspective of the ruling parties. While sections of the UML continue to maintain that it is not possible to change the boundaries between provinces, other influential leaders have come around to the view that five districts in the Tarai—Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kanchanpur and Kailali—can be regarded as ‘disputed’ districts. In the past, the ruling parties had proposed to form a commission to resolve these boundary disputes. And the Madhesi parties had rejected this in the belief that it would only defuse their movement without offering them anything concrete. In response to this, some leaders in the ruling parties now say that they are willing to form a special taskforce consisting of senior political leaders to resolve the dispute. This is in principle a positive step. For one, this taskforce will have a highly political character and thus the authority to make immediate changes to the constitution. Second, it can be hoped that such a taskforce will be able to reach agreement on boundaries much more swiftly than a commission.
In recent days, the Nepali Congress (NC) has been stating that it is willing to help mediate the dispute between the government and the Madhesi parties. This gives the impression that the largest party in Parliament has become closer to the Madhesi parties since the change of government. So far, the ruling parties have disregarded the NC’s proposal to mediate but they also seem to realise that without their meaningful participation any Madhes-government talks would not go far. It would most certainly be wise to include the NC in formal negotiations and get their ownership. For, the constitution is a foundational document that can only be strengthened if it includes the active input of as many political groups and stakeholders as possible. Furthermore, the NC, as a member of the opposition, is well placed to play an intermediary role between the ruling parties and the Madhesi opposition. It is to be hoped that with these developments, a resolution to the crisis in the Tarai will soon be found.
Published: 12-11-2015 08:37