Government to intensify talks with agitating forces

Kathmandu, November 2

The government is planning to hold consultations with ruling parties and the main opposition CPN-UML after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit concludes on Friday with a view to introducing the constitution amendment bill in Parliament by November 15.

In the latest talks between the government and agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front and the Federal Alliance Sunday, Prime Minster Pushpa Kamal Dahal assured UDMF and FA leaders that the government would introduce the bill by November 15.

“Prime Minister Dahal is planning to hold consultations within the ruling parties and the main opposition CPN-UML immediately after the Indian president’s visit concludes. The government will work with the target of registering the bill in Parliament by November 15,” said Chakrapani Khanal, political adviser to PM Dahal.

The PM has already instructed some concerned persons to prepare the draft of the amendment bill, according to Khanal.

UDMF and FA leaders reiterated their demands and told the PM that they would respond to the proposed contents of the amendment bill after the government brings the draft proposal. “The PM, during the Sunday’s talks, sought suggestions from the agitating parties. Then we said we will respond after the government brings the draft,” said Sadbhawana Party leader Rajendra Mahato.

Mahato said he government would bring the constitution amendment bill by November 15 on four issues — boundaries of provinces, formation of the commission for recognising the dominant languages of the provinces as official language, making representation in the National Assembly on the basis of population and addressing the concerns of Madhesi people in issuance of citizenship certificates — as agreed during Sunday’s talks.

Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel said the leaders agreed to bring the bill by November 15 after consulting ruling parties and the main opposition CPN-UML. “We are yet to hold detailed consultations on issues of the amendment,” Paudel said.

The ruling CPN-MC and the NC are considering creating a separate province including the plain area from Nawalparasi to Bardiya, according to sources. The proposed adjustment might create a situation that would make the agitating Madhes-based parties participate in elections although they might keep their demand of including the five disputed districts — Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur — intact and cash on this as their agenda in the elections, said sources at the NC and the CPN MC.

Madhes-based parties, however, have come up with two proposals: splitting the five districts by including the plain parts in Tarai provinces and the hilly parts in hilly provinces; and mandating the federal commission, to be formed, to alter the boundaries of the five districts with the principle of incorporating the plain areas in Tarai provinces.

After the ruling NC and UML agreed to address the concerns of the agitating Madhes-based parties through constitution amendment in a three-point agreement reached on August 3, the parties in UDMF had voted for Dahal in the election of the prime minister on the same day.