SLMM planning to sever ties with ruling coalition

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 23, 2017-Roiled by the government move of announcing local level poll date without addressing their demand of constitution amendment, the Madhes-based parties are considering severing ties with the Maoist Centre-Nepali Congress alliance.

When the Maoist-Congress coalition installed Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the prime minister in August last year with the support of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, top leaders of the coalition had pledged an amendment to the constitution. But seven months on, the Morcha now feels betrayed, as the government has declared date for local elections without addressing the Madhes crisis. It took the government four months to register a constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat. The bill was tabled in Parliament on January 8, six months after the Dahal government was formed. 

The constitution amendment bill, however, faced scathing criticism from the main opposition CPN-UML, which obstructed House proceedings, vowing to block an amendment to the constitution. Instead, the UML piled pressure on the government to declare date for local level elections. PM Dahal, who has his own deal with the NC of holding local elections and handing over the government leadership, declared local level elections on Monday, setting the date for May 14.

His various attempts to convince the Madhes-based parties so far have cut no ice with the Madhesi leaders. 

In the backdrop of recent developments, the Madhes-based parties too have come under pressure from their constituencies to withdraw their support to the government. Leaders of the Morcha, which has already taken to the streets, said discussions are underway to withdraw support to the government. The Morcha is planning to unveil more protest programmes.  

“Many are asking whether it is ethical to protest against a government to which we have the support; and that’s a genuine concern. There have been ample discussions on the issue,” Sanghiya Sadbhawana Party Chairman Anil Kumar Jha told the Post. “We have absolutely no problem in cutting off ties with the government..”

The government will not face any crisis even if the Morcha withdraws support, as in terms of numbers the Maoist-Congress coalition enjoys clear majority in Parliament, but for the Madhes-based parties, Madhesi leaders say, it is more of an ethical issue rather than throwing the government into crisis. 

Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato said that the Morcha has given up hopes on the government. “The Morcha is considering various options including withdrawing support to the government,” said Mahato. “We announced protest after concluding that constitution amendment is nowhere on the agenda of major parties. More protest programmes would follow in coming weeks if our concerns are not met,” added Mahato. 

Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal leader Ashok Rai said that the agitating parties are in a wait and watch mode. 

“In principle, we have no problem with the announcement of the poll date. All we have been saying is outstanding issues should be resolved before elections. We will decide our next move accordingly,” said Rai.

Published: 23-02-2017 07:55

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