NC stays away from meeting

Kathmandu, November 18

The Nepali Congress, the principal opposition party, stayed away from today’s talks with the Madhesi forces, saying the ruling coalition did not send it a formal invite on time.

NC leaders said it was informed about the talks late and it was not consulted about the much publicised “decisive” talks. The party, however, said it did not mean that it would not participate in talks to be held in future.

“When Sushil Koirala was prime minister, the NC used to inform the opposition party leader at times even a day in advance. However, we were informed about the talks just

an hour before the talks while we were holding a party meeting. We were not even consulted on how to settle the issues. We will participate in future talks if we are informed on time,” NC’s Acting President Ramchandra Paudel told THT.

Paudel said the issue of demarcation of provincial boundaries was sensitive and ruling parties’ leaders should refrain from making irresponsible statements. He was referring to ruling coalition’s public statements on dividing eastern districts, including Morang and Sunsari.

Paudel said amending constitution on two prominent demands of the Madhesis -- proportional representation in state organs and number of constituencies based on population -- could create positive environment for talks and end the blockade imposed by the agitating parties and the NC was pushing for that.

UCPN-M leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha alleged that the NC stayed away from talks, as it did not want to resolve the crisis since it was not part of the government and was looking at things from the perspective of its upcoming National General Convention.

NC spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu, however, said CPN-UML and UCPN-M themselves were sharply divided on Madhesis’ concerns and their allegation that NC was not cooperating was misleading.