Kathmandu, February 8

Senior leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre have said that the government can’t wait indefinitely to forge consensus with the agitating Madhesi parties for civic polls.

CPN-MC leader Agni Prasad Sapkota told THT, “The government will try its best to resolve differences with the Madhesi parties within one week.” “Holding civic polls is the bottom line.”

He said the three major parties — NC, CPN-MC and CPN-UML — have already agreed to hold polls at any cost. As per the constitution, the country has to conduct elections at three levels — local, provincial and parliamentary — by January 21.

NC leader Gopal Man Shrestha said his party would try its best to address the concerns of the agitating forces and persuade them to go for elections.

“Holding elections is moral and constitutional obligation of the parties and the government,” Shrestha said, adding that the constitution cannot be implemented without holding civic polls.

He hoped that the Madhesi parties might accept polls under the old structures and urged the government and parties to dwell on that possibility.

The Madhesi parties, on the other hand, have reservations against the report of the Local bodies Restructuring Commission that was submitted to the government on January 6.

CPN-MC leader Mani Thapa said the government had fulfilled its obligation by tabling the constitution amendment bill in the Parliament. “Agitating parties should now show flexibility,” he added.

According to him, chances of the three major parties coming together for civic polls were high if the agitating Madhesi parties remained adamant on their stance. Despite strong protests from several quarters, including the Madhesi forces, the NC, UML and CPN-MC had come together to promulgate the constitution in October 2015.

Meanwhile, General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party, Keshav Jha said the Madhesi parties were not against polls. He claimed that they had stuck to their stance but it was the government that had been changing its stance.

According to him, the United Democratic Madhesi Front, an alliance of major Madhes-based parties, would issue ultimatum to the government to address the issues raised by the agitating forces and launch protest programmes. The next meeting of the UDMF will come up with its plan, including protest schedule.