Prez writes to Morcha leaders for a meeting

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 1, 2016-

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has reached out to top leaders of the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) for a discussion on the prolonged Tarai crisis.

In an official letter sent to the SLMM leadership on Wednesday, President Bhandari invited the leaders of four Madhes-based parties for a joint consultation.

The invitation, which comes weeks after President Bhandari’s controversial visit to the Janaki temple to attend the Bibah Mahotsav (annual marriage celebration of Hindu deity Ram and Sita), has been taken meaningfully.

Morcha leaders, however, have yet to respond to the invitation citing their “busy schedule”.

“We have received an invitation from the President’s secretariat. But we haven’t decided when to meet her as most top Morcha leaders are outside the Valley,” said Mahantha Thakur, chairman of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party.

On December 16, Janaki temple became a battlefield between police and protesters due to President Bhandari’s visit even as she had informed Madhesi leaders including Thakur about her pilgrimage. Morcha leaders had assured Bhandari that there would be no obstacles from their side.

“She had even proposed that I accompany her to Janakpur. But I could not as I already had booked an air ticket to Birgunj,” Thakur told the Post, recalling the conversation he had with the head of state during an all-party meeting at Sheetal Niwas two days before her visit.

However, Morcha leaders on the ground refused to heed their central leadership and protested against her visit.

The controversy took a new turn after local youths sprayed holy water to cleanse the temple premises allegedly because Bhandari was a widow. Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav criticised the attack on the President but told media that the temple premises were cleaned because Nepal Army personnel had entered the temple’s sanctum sanatorium with leather boots and dog, considered impure in the Hindu tradition.

Published: 01-01-2016 08:44

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