Nepali Congress refuses to attend tripartite talks

Kathmandu, December 11

Talks with the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front ended inconclusively today as the Nepali Congress, the principal opposition party, refused to attend the scheduled tripartite talks.

Co-chair of Sadbhawana Party Laxman Lal Karna said the ruling parties today again urged the UDMF leaders to accept their three-point proposal but the front rejected the same.

Ruling parties’ three-point proposal talks of tabling the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament and settling the question of provincial boundaries within three months through a political mechanism.

The ruling parties also urged UDMF leaders to withdraw their agitation in the Tarai and end their obstruction of the House proceedings, but UDMF leaders told the ruling parties that they would not withdraw their agitation unless their demands were met.

“As far as our protest in the House is concerned, we have told them that we would allow the passage of any bill that would seek to assist the earthquake affected people. We have decided to assist such bills on humanitarian grounds but we will continue to disrupt all other proceedings in the House,” Karna added.

Senior leader of Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party-Nepal Ram Naresh Ray said the ruling parties told UDMF leaders that they had not discussed the front’s 11-point demands with the Nepali Congress yet.

The ruling parties expressed their dismay at the NC for refusing to attend today’s tripartite talks.

Vice-chairperson of Unified CPN-Maoist Narayan Kaji Shrestha said the UDMF leaders rejected the ruling parties’ proposal to settle the boundary question within three months through a political mechanism.

Shrestha said the NC leaders had agreed in the tripartite talks yesterday to table the Reconstruction Authority Bill in the Parliament without tying it to Constitution Amendment Bill but later acted against that understanding by blocking the House proceedings yesterday.

“NC leaders refused to attend today’s tripartite talks, saying they will stick to their previous stance (of moving both bills together),” Shrestha said.

NC spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu, however, said the parties had agreed in the tripartite talks yesterday that the government would table both the bills in the Parliament.

He said his party leaders did not boycott today’s talks but had told them that they would sit for next tripartite talks after talking to the Madhesi leaders regarding the Reconstruction Authority Bill.

Badu said the whips had agreed to put both the bills on the parliamentary business list yesterday but the Constitution Amendment Bill was removed from the list at the eleventh hour, forcing the NC lawmakers to obstruct the House proceedings yesterday.

UCPN-M leader said the ruling parties told UDMF leaders that in order to satisfy the NC, the government could table both the bills together and the UDMF could obstruct the House proceedings when the House took up the agenda of Constitution Amendment Bill, forcing the Speaker to postpone the proceedings as normally happens during the protest.

He, however, said the UDMF rejected the proposal and told the ruling parties that front leaders would discuss the matter.

TMSP-N leader Ray said the UDMF opposed the ruling parties’ proposal to move both the bills together because the Constitution Amendment Bill registered by the Sushil Koirala-led government did not address the front’s concerns.