Consensus on Tarai crisis still elusive

Kathmandu, January 2

Chances of consensus remain uncertain although the three major parties and the agitating United Democratic Front will be holding talks tomorrow to clear the way to move ahead with the remaining proceedings of the Bill on First Amendment of the constitution.

The CPN-UML and UCPN-M are keen to move ahead with providing 72 hours to lawmakers to register amendment proposals on the bill if consensus cannot be forged by tomorrow.

The preliminary discussions will likely conclude tomorrow.

The main opposition Nepali Congress, however, is insisting on putting the remaining proceedings on hold for a few more days and resuming the process after taking the agitating parties into confidence.

“We want to move the remaining process of constitution amendment ahead after reaching consensus with agitating forces. As talks among the ruling parties, the NC and the agitating Madhes-based parties are scheduled to be held tomorrow morning, it will make the situation clearer regarding what will happen next,” NC Vice-president Ramchandra Paudel told THT.

UML Whip Gokul Gharti, however, said preliminary discussions will conclude tomorrow and the second stage of the bill’s proceedings will begin tomorrow itself as agreed among the three major parties on Thursday at a meeting called by the Speaker.

“We took much time waiting for consensus. We cannot wait further. The remaining proceedings will move ahead after discussions conclude tomorrow,” he said.

Paudel said he had held talks with UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Tarai Madhes Democratic Party leader Mahantha Thakur yesterday and had put forth the NC’s roadmap for a solution.

“I suggested that the constitution amendment bill could be improved by changing the language and incorporating other issues not included in the bill. The issue of boundaries of federal units could be resolved within three months. I hope we will find a point of compromise,” Paudel said. Settling the issue of boundaries within one month as sought by some parties is difficult as the NC will be busy with its National General Convention scheduled to be held from March 3 to 6 in Kathmandu, he said.

TMDP leader Hridayesh Tripathi, however, said there was no indication that consensus would be reached tomorrow as stated by leaders of the three major parties. “We have not found anything positive for consensus during informal talks. We cannot accept an agreement on credit. So, I don’t think the parties will reach consensus tomorrow,” he said.

Top UDMF leaders are scheduled to address a mass meeting in Butwal tomorrow and UDMF’s meeting is not scheduled for tomorrow, according to Sadbhawana Party leader Manish Kumar Suman.

Meanwhile, Speaker Onsari Gharti said the remaining proceedings of the constitution amendment bill could be put on hold for one or two days only if the leaders of political parties requested unanimously with a concrete basis for consensus. “Otherwise, the proceedings will not stop. The next stage will begin immediately after preliminary discussions on the bill is completed,” Gharti told THT.