Govt set to invite Morcha for talks

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 8, 2016-

The government is preparing to invite the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha  (SLMM) for another round of negotiation in a bid to resolve the Tarai crisis.

The government plan to resume talks comes days ahead of the agitating parties’ scheduled programme to stage protests in front of Singha Durbar from May 15. 

Speaking at the Reporter’s Club in the Capital on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa, who also leads a political mechanism formed to address the issues raised by the agitating parties, said that the government was planning to write to the Madhes-based parties inviting them to return to talks. 

Madhesi leaders, however, said they would have to think twice before accepting the government’s talks offer. 

“If the government is really willing to resolve the crisis at the political level, it must do a thorough review of why we failed to find a solution despite 36 rounds of talks,” said Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSFN) Chairman Upendra Yadav. Madhes-based parties fear that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli would further harden his position on state demarcation, their main demand, in the wake of recent political developments. 

Earlier this week, Madhesi parties had expressed readiness to support the Nepali Congress (NC) to topple the Oli government.

“He (PM Oli) wasn’t ready to relent when Madhes movement was at its peak and pressure was mounting on the government from all quarters,” said a leader from the SSFN. “It would be foolish to expect anything from him [Oli] right now as the opposition parties, including the NC, appear weaker than ever.”

Past efforts to find a solution to the Tarai crisis had failed after the government refused to agree on the terms and condition put forth by the agitating groups to join the political mechanism. Madhes-based parties have demanded prior assurance of at least two provinces in the Tarai plains and statutory status to the political mechanism to join the mechanism.

Madhesi leaders said that the deadlock over the revision of federal boundaries is unlikely to end unless top leaders from all sides agree on a clear roadmap. 

Talking to Post ahead of his Delhi visit on Thursday, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur had said that there should be broader understanding among the leadership of the ruling coalition, the NC and the agitating parties on Terms of Reference and legality of the political mechanism. 

The government and Madhes-based parties have not held talks since February 18, the day the Thapa-led political mechanism was formed. 

PM Oli’s chief political adviser Bishnu Rimal, however, blamed the agitating parties for the failure of the talks. He said that the Madhes-based parties should return to the negotiating table without any precondition. 

 “The Madhes-based parties are to blame for the delays. We have requested them time and again to return to the talks table. But they have not responded,” said Rimal, adding that the government was planning to write to Madhesi parties within a few days, requesting them to come to dialogue. 

Published: 08-05-2016 08:06

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