All citizens should have equal rights, says TMDP leader Lal

Kathmandu, November 9

Madhesi leaders say the current controversy about naturalised citizens’ rights was created to derail parties’ efforts to reach a deal on constitution amendment.

Senior leader of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Brikhesh Chandra Lal said current media reports against naturalised citizens’ rights were the results of deliberate attempt to derail the ongoing informal dialogue between political forces on issues of constitution amendment.

Following recent media reports that the government was preparing to draft the constitution amendment in a way as to allow naturalised citizens to hold top constitutional posts, leaders of major parties, including the Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said they were not in favour of allowing naturalised citizens to hold the posts of president and prime minister.

TMDP leader Lal said the United Democratic Madhesi Front was of the view that the provisions of Interim Constitution should be retained on the issues of citizenship.

“Never was there any discrimination in the past against citizens   on grounds of type of citizenship. So depriving naturalised citizens from holding top constitutional posts is a regressive step,” Lal added.

If the state doubted the loyalty of naturalised citizens, he argued, it should not confer naturalised citizenship on anybody, and if it did, it should not discriminate against any citizens.

Chair of Sadbhawana Party Rajendra Mahato said he was not in favour of making naturalised citizens eligible for the posts of prime minister and president, but there should be no retroactive effects on naturalised citizens as far as their rights were concerned.

Mahato also said those who had acquired naturalised citizenship on the basis of marital relations with Nepali nationals should not be discriminated against.

“Those who have acquired natural citizenship on the basis of matrimony have become part and parcel of Nepali society and they should not be prevented from holding top constitutional posts,” Mahato said.

Only statute amendment will end deadlock: Kedia

Sadbhavana Party central member Bimal Kedia said the political deadlock would continue until the statute was amended.

Speaking at a programme organised by his party in Birgunj today, Kedia ruled out the chances of statute implementation before its amendment. “The political deadlock will not end until and unless the charter is amended to address the concerns of Madhesis,” he said.

Warning the major political parties that their political future would end if they neglected the Madhesi issues, Kedia called on the Madhes-based parties to be united as per the aspirations of the Madhesi people.

He also hinted at the possible unification between his party and the Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party.

On a different note, Kedia bemoaned the state’s apathy towards the development of Birgunj, one of the main industrial cities of the country.