Govt renews offer for talks to FA

Kathmandu, May 20

The government today renewed its offer for talks to the agitating forces, saying it was ready to hold talks with maximum flexibility.

Minister of Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai, who is also the government’s spokesperson, told mediapersons after a Cabinet meeting that the government decided to publicly appeal to the agitating parties once again, urging them to come to the negotiating table.

He added that the Cabinet endorsed the talks invite sent by the government’s talks committee coordinator Kamal Thapa, who is also the deputy prime minister and foreign minister, a few days ago.

Rai said the government was ready to settle issues immediately showing maximum flexibility on the negotiating table so as to expedite reconstruction and implementation of the new constitution.

Rai told THT that the government played a key role in amending the constitution mainly to address the concerns of the agitating forces and formed a political committee to address their concerns about provincial boundaries, yet they had been rejecting offer for talks on one pretext or another.

“The government has done everything that the agitating forces demanded to build environment for talks. The government has already moved the process to provide Rs 100,000 to victims’ families and free treatment to the injured,” he said.

He added that if the agitating forces wanted negotiated settlement of provincial boundaries, they should first join the Kamal Thapa-led Political Committee. “If the UDMF says that there is no ToR for Kamal Thapa-led Political Committee, they should join it also to make the ToR. Agitating forces just want to create problems for the government,” he added.

Prime Minister’s Political Adviser Bishnu Rimal said the United Democratic Madhesi Front had only one demand -- revision of provincial boundaries. “Now we are hearing that the agitating parties have put forth more demands. If they keep adding demands, how can the government address each demand?” Rimal wondered. Laxman Lal Karna, co-chair of the Sadbhawana Party, a constituent of the Federal Alliance, however, rejected the talks offer saying that the government had not prepared environment for talks.

He said the government had neither formed any probe committee to investigate into the rights violations in Madhes nor had it withdrawn false cases slapped against UDMF leaders and cadres.

“We are always in favour of negotiated settlement of constitutional issues but the talks should be decisive. We want new talks committee formed so that all the top leaders could hold dialogue with the agitating forces,” Karna added.

He said if the government was not prepared to address all their concerns, then the talks would be meaningless.

Parliamentary Party leader of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Ashok Kumar Rai said the Federal Alliance would make its stance clear about the talks offer after receiving a formal invite from the government.

He, however, said the talks would happen only when the government was committed to discussing 26-point demands that the alliance raised a few days in a letter sent to the PM.

“We are always in favour of settling issues through negotiations but the talks should be decisive. The government should not use talks as a tool to mislead the public and the international community,” he said, adding that the agitating forces held talks 26 times but they produced no result.

The Federal Alliance, a coalition of Madhesi and Janajati parties, has been spearheading a Kathmandu-centric agitation for the last few days and has announced that it would continue its agitation for at least another week.