RAM KUMAR KAMAT
KATHMANDU: Four major political forces — the Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front — today continued discussing federalism, ‘broadly and frankly’ as the leaders claimed, but nonetheless failed to reach an agreement.
After today’s meeting, the leaders said they would resume the talks tomorrow at 1pm.
NC negotiator Ramchandra Paudel told this daily that his party proposed to carve some districts of far east and far west out of Madhes, respecting the sentiments of the residents of those districts. UML representatives in the meeting seconded NC.
“Even the Maoists are in agreement with us on our proposal. Though the Madhesi parties said they would not give up on their One Madhes Pradesh demand, they added that they did not want to be a stumbling block to the constitution-drafting process,” Paudel told THT.
According to Sarvendranath Shukla, Spokesperson for the Terai Madhes Democratic Party, the NC and UML proposed to carve Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali, and Kanchanpur out of Madhes.
Paudel claimed that the gap among the parties on number of federal units was gradually narrowing. “We will probably agree on six to seven pradeshes,” Paudel said, “The proposals that we discussed today were, to some extent, reformed than earlier ones,” he added.
But contrary to what Paudel said, Maoist lawmaker Khim Lal Devkota said there might be 10 pradeshes because it would be difficult to pacify indigenous nationalities, Dalits, Madhesis and other excluded groups if fewer pradeshes were carved out.
“We dwelt on issues of federalism and forms of governance. A new constitution will be promulgated and our role will be supportive,” said UDMF leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, but stopped short of going into detail.
Sources said the UCPN-Maoist put its cards on the table at the today’s meeting, proposing for the first time to keep the area between Daunne (Nawalparasi and Chure range in Makwanpur district — approximately 130 kilometers) with non-Madhes region. But UDMF continued lobbying for an autonomous Madhes province. Apart from Chitwan and surrounding areas as buffer, the Maoists did not propose to divide Madhes vertically as advocated by the NC and UML.
Shukla said the Madhesi front in no circumstances would lose Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur from Madhes.
CC seeks two more days
KATHMANDU: The Constitutional Committee of the Constituent Assembly on Wednesday decided to seek two more days to reach consensus on contentious issues of the new constitution. Following a meeting of four political forces, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal and Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula held separate meetings to work out issues related to federalism.