Leaders focus on securing vote banks while demarcating boundaries


Parties on Thursday failed to agree on demarcating boundaries of federal units, as the leaders of four parties — the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML, the Unified CPN-Maoist and the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic — remained adamant on keeping the areas of their influence (vote banks) intact in the federal structure.

With the parties being unable to demarcate the boundaries of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari in the east and Kailali and Kanchanpur in the far-west, CA members and leaders of other areas have also begun pressuring the leaders not to divide their areas.

CA members of Lumbini and Rapti zones on Thursday met the top leaders of four parties and urged them not to divide the zones. Thirty-two CA members of Lumbini zone handed over a memorandum to Chairman of Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee Baburam Bhattarai, demanding not to break the zone while demarcating the boundaries.

Although leaders had committed to finding solution to the vexed issue by on Thursday, they failed to do so. “No progress was made on Thursday as the leaders remained adamant on their stances. It seemed as if the leaders forgot the essence and principle of federalism, as they are fighting to secure their vote banks,” said Unified CPN-Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar on Thursday proposed to adopt seven-state model with three in the Tarai and four in hilly and mountainous regions. According to MJF-D leader Jitendra Narayan Dev, the party proposed to include Jhapa, Chitwan and Kanchanpur in three hill states. According to his proposal, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha and Udayapur can be in one Tarai state; Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Sindhuli and some areas of Udayapur in second and Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilbastu, Dang, Banke, Bardiya and Kailali in the third Tarai state.

Gachhadar had proposed yesterday to include Saptari in a hill state if the three disputed districts — Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari — are to be included in a hill state as stressed by the NC and the UML.

NC and UML leaders are consistently pleading to include Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur in hill states, while UCPN-M has reservations against that.

CPDCC Chairman Bhattarai, after its meeting, said the leaders were positive on the issues and would finalise it by 1:00pm tomorrow and the panel will hand over its report to CA chairman before the CA’s meeting scheduled for 5:00pm.

After the leaders failed to reach consensus on Thursday, Gachhadar flew to Biratnagar this afternoon, stating that he would return by 9:00am tomorrow.

The parties are under pressure to settle contentious issues within two-three days to deliver the new constitution by August-end. If they fail to deliver the new constitution within this period, the constitution drafting may be delayed by three-four months, as the Nepali Congress has to begin preparations for its National General Convention slated for September 19-22.

Dashain, Tihar and Chhath may also affect constitution drafting process.

Options before parties

• To demarcate the boundaries within two-three days and promulgating the new statute by August-end

• To agree within two-three days to leave the issue of boundaries aside to settle

it through a federal commission as stated in the 16-point agreement of the parties

• To agree, within two-three days, to let the CA move its process and settle the demarcation issue before the final voting on the new statute in the CA