Gathabandhan seeks ‘proper letter’ for talks

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 25, 2016-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s renewed effort to resume talks with the agitating parties failed to materialise on Tuesday after the latter refused to show up demanding a “proper invitation”.

Madhesi and Janajati parties, which have been protesting in the Capital, have sought a formal invitation addressed to the Sanghiya Gathabandhan, an alliance formed by the agitating forces, instead of a letter addressed to the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM). 

PM Oli on Monday had invited the Morcha for talks. 

The Morcha had earlier declined two invitations questioning the sincerity and capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa-led political mechanism to address its key concerns, including redrawing of provincial boundaries. The Morcha and the government have not held talks since February 18--the day the Thapa-led mechanism was formed. “We would respond to the calls for talks only when the government sends another letter addressed to the Sanghiya Gathabandhan,” said Rajendra Shrestha, general secretary of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, one of the constituents of the SLMM. 

An all-party meet called by PM Oli on Tuesday morning ended without entering into the agenda after Madhesi parties did not participate. PM Oli’s aides said that Morcha representatives did not attend the meeting “due to their own internal differences”. 

Pramod Dahal, press adviser to PM Oli, later in the day issued a statement, claiming that “the time table of the talks was set in consultation with Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur”.

“PM Oli was planning to hold the meeting at 9am. But the meeting was delayed by an hour as per Thakur’s request as he had a prior appointment with a doctor,” said Dahal. “But he rang up half an hour later to say that the Morcha would decide about participating in the talks only after holding an internal meeting,” he added. 

No need to rewrite statute, amendment will do: Mahato

Sadbhawana Party leader Rajendra Mahato said on Tuesday that the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) was for amending the constitution, not for rewriting it. 

Mahato’s remarks come at a time when Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav has been demanding that the constitution should be rewritten to address the demands raised by some sections of the society.

Both Mahato and Yadav’s parties are part of the SLMM, which is an alliance of seven Madhes-based forces that are protesting against the constitution. 

“Our demand is amendment to some of the provisions of the constitution,” Mahato said at Reporters’ Club. “We, Madhesi Morcha, have never called for rewriting the constitution.” Yadav, on the other hand, has long been saying that the Morcha would not sit for talks with the government until the latter agreed to rewrite the constitution. Though the Morcha did not attend the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Mahato said the letter sent by PM was a “positive move”. “We will respond to the PM after holding an internal meeting of the Morcha,” said Mahato. “We will make our position clear very soon.”

Mahato is one of the leaders not happy with Yadav’s initiative to form an alliance between Madhesi and Janajati forces. “Most of us were not here when Yadav formed the [Sanghiya Gathabandhan],” he said, criticising Yadav for assuming the Gathabandhan’s leadership.

Published: 25-05-2016 07:48

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