Major parties upbeat about striking a deal

How can we hold dialogue when the police shoot at our people

Kathmandu, December 3

The three major parties the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the Unified CPN-Maoist  today decided to table the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament and were optimistic about reaching a deal with the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front soon.

However, the UDMF leaders didn’t share their optimism.

Leaders associated with the three major parties, who discussed the demands of the agitating parties today, spoke of progress made on forming a common stance on UDMF demands.

Sources in the major parties claimed that the parties had agreed to forward the Constitution Amendment Bill registered at the Parliament by the Sushil Koirala government to address two major demands of the agitating parties proportional inclusion in state organs and delimitation of the election constituencies on the basis of population.

This bill, however, does not address the agitating parties’ demand for a review of provincial boundaries. The major parties also dwelt on forming a political committee to resolve the row on provincial boundaries within three months.

“The agitating Madhesi parties have been invited for talks on Friday,” said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, vice-chairman of UCPN-M.

Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chairperson Mahantha Thakur told THT that he had not received any invitation from the government for talks yet. He said UDMF was for a package deal on all their demands and had not yet dwelt on resolving the issue of demarcation through a political committee.

Upendra Yadav, chairperson of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, a constituent of UDMF, claimed the three major parties only discussed how to suppress the Tarai unrest, instead of seeking negotiated settlement of the constitutional issues.

He claimed that the three parties only discussed strategies to effect ethnic cleansing in Madhes instead of fulfilling the demands of Madhesis and Janajatis. “One woman was killed and more than half a dozen people were injured during the police firing in Nawalpur of Sarlahi today,” he said. “How can we hold dialogue when the police shoot at our people?” he asked.

Spokesperson for TMDP Sarbendra Nath Shukla said there was no change in the UDMF’s position. “We are where we were yesterday. We will not accept any solution without the major parties addressing our concerns about provincial boundaries,” Shukla said.

He said the UDMF had opposed the major parties’ proposal to settle boundaries row through a political mechanism in the previous meetings and it still stood firm on that position.

Shrestha said the three major parties had finalised a common opinion on some issues and on that basis the parties would hold dialogue with the agitating parties and strike a deal.

NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the major parties would form their common position on UDMF demands only after holding talks with the agitating parties.

“From today’s discussion NC came to the conclusion that things could be resolved soon through dialogue,” he said.

Deputy PM and UML Vice-chairperson Bhim Rawal said the parties had decided to hold talks with agitating parties to finalise the issues and implement the conclusions.