Big III, UDMF prepared for strategic shift

Kathmandu, December 12

As agreement between the three major political parties and agitating the United Democratic Madhesi Front appears unlikely anytime soon, both are prepared for a strategic shift that may end the blockade, while the dispute may continue to be unresolved for a few months.

Multiple sources said the three major parties are preparing to forward the Constitution Amendment Bill and form a political committee to settle the dispute over provincial boundaries. This would put pressure on the UDMF to end the blockade and change the form of its protest.

However, the three parties would still hold a few rounds of talks to bring the agitating parties on board the process, the sources said.

The three major parties are not in a mood to redraw provincial boundaries, while the UDMF is also not in a position to strike an agreement and all protest programmes immediately. It means both the sides have reached a point where there is no alternative to changing their strategies. UDMF leaders yesterday reiterated their stance. In two separate meetings held yesterday with the ruling parties and main opposition NC, the Front leaders urged the major parties to hold serious discussions on their 11-point demand.

“The UDMF is not in a mood to accept the three party’s three-point proposal. The three parties are also not in a position to settle the issue of provincial boundaries immediately. In the given situation, the three parties will have to move ahead the Constitution Amendment Bill despite UDMF opposition,” said Unified CPN-Maoist Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha.

NC Spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu said the concerns of the UDMF over Constitution Amendment Bill could be addressed even after the statute amendment process advances. A political committee to resolve the issue of provincial boundaries may be formed within or outside the Parliament through consultations, he said. “However, we cannot withdraw the bill as it would further complicate the situation,” said Badu.

Sadbhawana Party’s co-chairman Laxman Lal Karna said the Madhes movement would continue until there was an agreement on the issue of provincial boundaries. “We need a solution now,” said Karna.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s press advisor Pramod Dahal said efforts were being made to find a “compromise” on NC’s demand for forwarding the Constitution Amendment Bill and the UDMF’s demand for first finding a solution to provincial boundaries.

Meanwhile, two civil society leaders – Daman Nath Dhungana and Padma Ratna Tuladhar – today held separate meetings with Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur and Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal’s Chairman Upendra Yadav.

“Since the Madhes movement is no longed within the control of the Front, the Front leaders are not in a position to strike a deal without satisfying the mass. So, they need to work on that, while the three major parties should be ready to re-negotiate key agendas so that it would be owned by all,” Dhungana said.