‘Marriage of convenience’ on the verge of collapse?

  • maoist-congress-morcha talks
  • Irate leaders of Madhes-based parties say they are ready to part ways with ruling alliance
- Post Report, Kathmandu
n Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal holds a meeting with leaders ofthe Maoist Centre, Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties atBaluwatar in Kathmandu on Monday. Post Photo

Jan 31, 2017-The conciliatory tune CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal was singing to seek Madhes-based parties’ votes to get elected as the prime minister in August has just lost the appeal, it seems, as Madhesi leaders have stopped finding it dulcet anymore.

And PM Dahal’s fresh proposal to announce dates for local elections and take the constitution amendment proposal forward “simultaneously” has just set the Madhesi leaders’ teeth on edge. 

During their meeting with the governing coalition—CPN (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress (NC)—called by PM Dahal on Monday, leaders of the Madhes-based parties presented themselves aggressively, saying they are rather ready to part ways if the government continues to dillydally to revise the statute amendment proposal and get it endorsed. 

Mahantha Thakur, Upendra Yadav, Mahendra Prasad Yadav, Rajendra Mahato and Keshav Jha among others represented the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, in the meeting held at Baluwatar.

The SLMM leaders univocally told PM Dahal that they would not let the elections happen in the Tarai, according to a leader present in the meeting. “Forget about taking part in the elections,” the leader quoted the Morcha top brass as saying. 

Dahal was elected prime minister with the support of the Madhes-based parties on August 3 after a three-point agreement that called for addressing the Madhes concerns through an amendment to the constitution. 

It took the Dahal government four months to register a constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat. 

The bill, which entered the House only on January 8, has now become an albatross around Dahal’s neck, with the main opposition CPN-UML vehemently objecting to it and the Madhes-based parties themselves finding fault with the document. The Morcha is insisting that the government revise the bill, as it fails to address the concerns of the Madhes. 

PM Dahal in the mean time is under pressure to declare dates for local polls, as delay in holding elections to the local bodies could hamper other two levels of elections—provincial and federal—which must be held by January next year as per a constitutional deadline.

Monday’s meeting with Madhes-based parties was called by PM Dahal as part of his bid to convince them to participate in the elections.

According to Keshav Jha, general secretary of Rastriya Madhes Sadbhawana Party, PM Dahal urged the Madhes-based parties to come up with ways to resolve the outstanding issues.

Upendra Yadav, chairman of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, is learnt to have told the meeting in response that the Madhes-based parties would rather part ways with the governing coalition and do “whatever we can”. 

So time is running out for PM Dahal. 

Caught between local elections and constitution amendment, or the UML and the Morcha for that matter, PM Dahal needs to hurry. 

When Dahal had sought Madhes-based parties to get to Singha Durbar, the UML, which had felt betrayed, had called it a marriage of convenience. 

Now with the Madhesi forces’ warning that they could end the affair, PM Dahal is under pressure to pull off a solution that could assuage Madhes-based parties’ concerns and the suspicions of the UML which has been pressing the government to declare dates for local level elections—something PM Dahal finds difficult to do unless he takes the Madhes-based parties into confidence. 

Published: 31-01-2017 08:02

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