KATHMANDU: Madhesi leaders and activists said that if a new constitution was framed on the basis of the 16-point agreement, it would not ensure the rights of marginalised communities, particularly Madhesis and Janajatis.

At an interaction organised by Jagriti Nepal, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chair Mahantha Thakur said the 16-point agreement had watered down the aspirations of marginalised communities, but the interim order of the Supreme Court had injected new hope.

“Yet the danger of a conspiracy against marginalised communities still lurks,” he said and added that they needed to prepare for a long battle to achieve their rightful share.

Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav said the 16-point agreement was a regressive move, which his party would not accept.

Sadbhavana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said Madhesis and Janajatis would not get anything without agitation. He said Madhesi forces should be ready to quit the Constituent Assembly if their struggle failed to achieve the desired results.

Nepali Congress CA member Amresh Kumar Singh said a constitution without federalism would only worsen the country’s problem. He said major parties should not push constitutional issues on the basis of numerical strength. “The big parties should think whether or not the constitution will have wide political legitimacy,” Singh added.

Executive Director of Nepal Madhes Foundation Tula Narayan Shah said the constitution would not be accepted if it lacked minimum consensus between the four major forces — NC, CPN-UML, UCPN-M and Madhesi parties and three social groups: Madhesis, Janajatis and Khas-Arya groups.

Shah said Bijay Gachhadar-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic could not represent Madhesi forces. “When we talk of Madhesi forces we mean the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal and Sadbhavana Party that were established through movements,” he added.

Nepal’s former Ambassador to Denmark Vijay Kant Karna said the Interim Constitution of Nepal should be treated as the basic principle for drafting a new constitution as this document was a social contract of social groups that staged movements for their rights. He said the parties had no right to bypass the Interim Constitution.

Advocate Dipendra Jha said the major parties were curtailing the rights of CA members by fast-tracking the constitution drafting process and such a constitution can not reflect the marginalised communities’ aspirations and protect their rights.

Political Scientist Krishna Hachhethu said the four parties had knowingly avoided the phrase ‘transformed Parliament’ which meant that they would not be obligated to settle federalism issues in the transformed parliament after promulgation of the constitution and federalism issue could linger on for an indefinite period.

Hachhethu said although the 16-point agreement talked of five criteria of identity and four criteria of economic capability, the major parties might deny the actual criteria when the issue comes up in the CA.

He said the Interim Constitution had stipulated creation of autonomous and powerful Pradeshes, but the major parties were not in favour of creating such Pradeshes.