Talks on, claims govt; Morcha says ‘no idea’

  • constitution amendment
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Sep 24, 2016-

Just as the government says it has expedited informal discussions with the Madhesi leaders and within the coalition for registering a constitution amendment proposal, the agitating forces express their ignorance about such any move, adding to confusion what exactly has been happening.

The agitating Madhesi forces had extended their support to the CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress (NC) to form a new government on the premise that they would, once in power, table a constitution amendment proposal in Parliament.

It has been more than a month and a half since Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal took office, but there has been hardly any progress in regards to constitution amendment, causing unease among the agitating forces.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is preparing to forge consensus on the provisions to be amended with the major coalition partner NC before inviting the Madhesi and Janajati forces to the negotiating table, government sources said. 

PM Dahal had even called off his US trip amid pressure to register the constitution amendment proposal. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Krishna Bahadur Mahara told the Post on Friday that the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) had been making a strong pitch for eight provinces and that given the gravity of the matter, the main opposition CPN-UML must be taken into confidence. 

“We are seeking a middle path so that a solution acceptable to all sides—government, main opposition and the Madhesis and Janajatis—can be achieved,” said Mahara. He, however, dismissed reports that “the amendment proposal has been finalised.”

As far as the agitating parties’ demands are concerned, there are four particular issues on the table—redrawing of provincial boundaries, representation in the Upper House, citizenship and official language of provinces.  

On the issue of citizenship, according to Mahara, parties could agree on the previous provision of the interim constitution. Regarding representation in the Upper House, the government could propose five out of eight members through inclusive principle and three on other bases, he said. “The Madhes-based parties have exhibited some flexibility of late,” said Mahara. “All the issues will most probably be sorted out very soon,” he added, stopping short of giving a specific timeframe. But Madhesi leaders said the SLMM was unaware of any negotiation process. “During my informal meeting with Prime Minister Dahal two days ago, I had asked about the preparations the government was making to address the concerns raised by the Madhesi people,” Rajendra Mahato, chairman of the Nepal Sadbhawana Party, told the Post. “The government might have been preparing the amendment proposal, but the SLMM has not been consulted yet.”

 When asked where the government has reached regarding amendment proposal, PM Dahal’s Press Adviser Govinda Acharya said, “The PM is for forging unanimous opinion on provisions to be amended.”

Published: 24-09-2016 08:26

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