Morcha leaders on the horns of a dilemma

  • SLMM in a tight spot over statute amendment bill
- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
The government and the main opposition betrayed Madhes by tabling both the bills together - Mahantha Thakur

Dec 17, 2015-The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, which has taken serious exception to government’s move of tabling the Constitution Amendment Bill along with the Reconstruction Authority Bill in Parliament, are now on the horns of a dilemma. 

The SLMM had though agreed to let the House pass the Reconstruction Bill, it had asked the major parties not to table the Constitution Amendment Bill, saying that it “does not address” their concerns. 

The main opposition Nepali Congress, however, was adamant on tabling both the bills together. 

A day after both the bills were tabled, Parliament on Wednesday endorsed the Reconstruction Bill.

Speaking at a press meet in Birgunj on Wednesday, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur said that the government and the main opposition “betrayed Madhes” by tabling both the bills together. “Talks with the government have now lost significance,” said Thakur, adding that now they would resort to “non-cooperation movement”. “The major parties pushed the Constitution Amendment Bill through just like they endorsed the constitution riding on their majority arrogance,” said Thakur. 

Morcha leaders though have said they will intensify protests, they are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. They are not in a position to accept it, as they call it an “incomplete deal”. Nor can they reject it outright in the wake of mounting pressure from various quarters, including India, to reach an early settlement with the government. 

Leaders said the SLMM “knew” that the government was planning to table the Constitution Amendment Proposal unilaterally but refused to cooperate, fearing backlash from their constituencies. 

“How will we go back to the people with an incomplete agreement when so much of blood has been spilled for Madhes provinces? How will we justify the protests?” said a Morcha leader requesting anonymity. “We can neither accept the government’s move nor can reject it, as pressure for and against the deal is equally divided.”

Morcha leaders also admit that there is a bigger danger lurking, which must be taken into account before they decide on their future strategy. They fear that the protests could slip out of their hands and land on other groups like one led by CK Raut, which is making a pitch for “Independent Madhes”, and another group led by JP Gupta. 

Hence, the Madhesi leadership is under tremendous pressure to reach an early compromise with major parties, leaders said.

Normal life has come to a standstill with shortage of essentials including fuel and medicines. Schools and industries have remained shut for about four months. 

During rounds of meetings with Morcha leaders in the past few days, Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae had suggested that they accept the four-point roadmap which Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa had presented during his New Delhi visit, leaders present in the meeting said. Thapa’s roadmap, which proposes addressing Morcha’s demands in phases, plans to revise the federal boundaries in next three months.

But Morcha cadres at the ground have stood against any incomplete agreement. They want settlement on all disputed issues, including revision of federal boundaries, in a package.

At least 40 protesters have already lost their lives and more than 400 have sustained injuries in the protests. 

Published: 17-12-2015 08:22

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