Government negotiators’ today assured the United Democratic Madhesi Front that the government was ready to amend provincial boundaries by forging political understanding with political parties, including Nepali Congress.
Minister without portfolio Ram Janam Chaudhari, who is also a member of the government talks team, said the government side assured UDMF negotiators that the government was ready to address political issues through political understanding.
Both sides held dialogue today.
UDMF has been agitating in Madhes for more than two months and has also been blockading border entry points for weeks demanding amendment in the constitution, which it says discriminates against Madhesis.
A meeting of the High Level Political Coordination Committee under Unified CPN-Maoist Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal today mandated the government talks team to show maximum flexibility in the dialogue with UDMF negotiators.
Assurances that the political issues would be addressed through amendment of the constitution assuaged the anger of UDMF, which had threatened to boycott dialogue if there had been no progress in talks.
“We did not boycott the dialogue because government negotiators, who had been talking of addressing the issues of boundary through a Federal Commission until yesterday, said the government was ready to amend the constitution to address the issues,” said Laxman Lal Karna, co-chair of Sadbhawana Party, a constituent of the UDMF.
“Government negotiators expressed commitment to amend the constitution through political understanding, and therefore, we did not boycott the talks,” Karna said.
He said UDMF was not terming today’s dialogue ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ but satisfactory as the government, which had been parroting about the Federal Commission, today said political issues would be addressed through political consensus.
He said UDMF negotiators also told the government side that they had heard the government was considering mobilising Nepali Army in the Tarai and declaring some areas riot hit, and if these reports were true the UDMF would not hold further talks.
According to Karna, government negotiators clarified that there was no plan to mobilise the army in the Madhes again or declare any area riot hit. They also pledged to order the law enforcement agencies not to arrest or detain protesters, said Karna.
Government negotiators also told them that they were in favour of holding a meeting among the chiefs of ruling and agitating parties, including Nepali Congress, to discuss constitutional issues.
Another UDMF negotiator Ram Naresh Ray of Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party-Nepal said government negotiators told them that since amendment to the constitution would require two-third majority in the House and since the ruling coalition lacked this strength, they needed to talk to the NC, the largest party, as well.
Government negotiators told UDMF representatives that they would complete consultations and discussions with other parties in two to three days and fix the date for the next round of dialogue.
UDMF negotiators also told government representatives that the government must also declare the deceased protesters martyrs and provide compensation to those people whose houses and properties were vandalised or damaged.
Ray said government negotiators pledged compensation to the victims after getting reports of damage from the investigation team. They also assured that false cases against protesters would be withdrawn.
A version of this article appears in print on November 02, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.