PM invites Madhesi, Tharu outfits for talks

Kathmandu, August 26

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has invited agitating Madhesi, Tharu, indigenous nationalities and Dalit forces for talks within three days.

Koirala sent separate letters to Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, Sanghiya Samajvadi Forum Nepal, Sadbhavana Party, Sanghiya Sadbhavana Party, Rastriya Madhes Samajvadi Party, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Republican, Tarai Madhes Sadbhavana Party, Chairman of Tharu Kalyankari Sabha, Joint Political Dalit Struggle Committee, Samyukta Dalit Aandolan Nepal, Dalit Nagarik Samaj and Dalit MPs’ Coordination Committee, inviting them for talks to resolve the constitutional issues through dialogue, read a statement issued by PM’s Press Coordinator Prakash Adhikari.

Earlier, the PM talked to TMDP Chair Mahantha Thakur over phone, urging him to sit for talks tomorrow. Thakur, however, said he would consult other constituents of the UDMF before responding to his call.

Thakur said the Interim Constitution had guaranteed Madhes province and Madhes had already been defined as the plain areas from Jhapa to Kanchanpur, along with inner Madhes or Chure range.

According to PM’s Press Adviser Prateek Pradhan, the PM told Thakur that all the forces -- the ruling and the opposition parties -- had the responsibility to give the country a new constitution and there was nothing that could not be resolved through dialogue.

The PM had earlier requested General Secretary of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum Ram Janam Chaudhari to prepare ground for negotiation with the agitating forces after a four-party meeting decided to hold meaningful dialogue with them.

UCPN-M negotiator Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the major parties agreed to take the initiative to hold dialogue with the Madhesi and Tharu forces. He, however, said the NC and the UML had not yet discussed their plan to address the grievances of the agitating forces.

MJF-D General Secretary Chaudhari said Tharus would hold talks with the PM and the major parties after receiving a formal invite for the same. Talks with Madhesi and Tharu forces will be held separately, said Chaudhari.

Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav, however, said the government was the main obstacle to negotiation. “The government talks of negotiation but it does not send any official letter to us,” Yadav said. He said the United Democratic Madhesi Front would not sit for talks unless the government withdrew the Nepali Army and APF from the Tarai districts. “It makes no sense for us to talk to the government when its forces are shooting at protesters,” he added.

Sadbhavana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said he was not against talks but the three major parties must ensure that they would respect the Interim Constitution and past agreements. “The government and the three major parties only need to implement the agreements and if they do that, they do not even need to hold talks with us,” Mahato added.

“The Interim Constitution ensures Madhes constituencies in proportion to its population but this draft does not ensure that,” he added.

Thakur also said government’s decision to deploy the Nepali Army was wrong. “Army was not deployed during the second popular movement and the Madhes uprising but this time the government has mobilised army. The government should not repress the movement,” Thakur said. He demanded martyrdom status for those who were killed during protests.

Earlier, the top leaders of the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Unified CPN-Maoist held a meeting that was attended by MJF-Democratic Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.