Madhesi parties 'ready' to take part in local elections
KESHAV P. KOIRALA
KATHMANDU: The agitating Madhesi parties on Friday hinted that they are ready to take part in the local level elections after the major ruling parties ensured them of addressing their concerns by reviewing the new bill on constitution amendment.
Top leaders of the ruling parties and the Madhesi parties agreed to find a "political way out" through an agreement to resolve differences between them over the constitution amendment and local level elections, the PM's Secretariat said in a statement after a second round of meeting between them this evening.
Leaders taking part in the meeting expressed their hope of a concrete decision by tomorrow.
The parties will meet at 2 pm tomorrow for a formal agreement.
Today's meeting was very positive and encouraging, Maoist leader Shakti Basnet said.
Tomorrow's meeting will decide on whether to hold elections nationwide in a single phase on scheduled date of May 16 or in two phases, according to Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Paudel.
Forming a task force, the two sides parted their ways from Baluwatar with an understanding to do some homework on revision of the new Constitution Amendment Bill, which the government brought in withdrawing the previous one.
It has been learned that the task force comprises of Krishna Prasad Sitaula of Nepali Congress and Buddhiman Tamang of Rastriya Prajatantra Party from the ruling side, and Laxman Lal Karna of Rastriya Janata Party and Rajendra Shrestha of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal from the agitating side.
In the first round of meeting earlier this morning, the Madhesi parties had expressed their reservation over the new constitution bill and pointed out the need for amending Article 7 and Article 274 of Constitution and provision on formation of federal commissions, according to Karna.
Top leaders of Rastriya Janata Party, which was formed yesterday after the merger of six Madhesi parties, and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal were invited by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal for the meeting in a bid to make last ditch efforts to bring the Madhesi parties ,which have been protesting the May 14 elections and warning of boycotting them, on board the election process.
Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Paudel, Prakash Man Singh, Bimalendra Nidhi; Rastriya Janata Dal leader Mahantha Thakur, Anil Kumar Jha, Sharat Singh Bhandari, Mahedra Raya Yadav, and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal leaders Ashok Rai and Rajendra Shrestha were present in the meeting.
Amendment bottom line
Earlier this morning also, the two sides had held discussion on the constitution amendment and local level elections.
After the meeting, Laxman Lal Karna of Rastriya Janata Party had said that his party would leave Kathmandu tomorrow for the party's programme in Madhes region "if nothing happens today".
"We've made our bottom-line clear -- our front, our Rastriya Janata Party will not take part in this election unless the constitution amendment does not happen," he said.
Saying Madhesi parties have reservation over the new bill, Karna added, "It will be acceptable to us only if the bill is amended ensuring that people will get something."