Front leaders’ perception is that the government’s letter calling for talks smacks of arrogance
Kathmandu, October 17
The United Democratic Madhesi Front is likely to respond to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s invite for talks tomorrow rejecting the government’s demand that the protesting forces withdraw their agitation.
The PM had sent the UDMF a formal invite yesterday.
Chair of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Upendra Yadav said the front would not withdraw any of its programmes for talks with the government. He further said the phrases used by PM in the letter were objectionable. “The letter shows arrogance on the part of the government. The phrases in the letter gives the impression that the letter is written by a master to his servants,” he said, adding that he did not expect the PM to sign a letter that undermined the prestige of protesting parties.
“The government is concerned about political instability, lack of essential commodities, suffering and loss caused by the protests in the Tarai Madhes,” read the letter. “I appeal to you to come to the negotiating table to seek negotiated settlement of the issues.”
Yadav said the PM failed to prepare the ground for talks by withdrawing armed forces from the Tarai and false cases against protesters. It had also not declared those killed during protests as martyrs.
General Secretary of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Sarvendranath Shukla said the front would respond to the government’s letter tomorrow after a meeting of leaders who are in the capital. There is no question of withdrawing our protests for talks. “How can we withdraw our protests without the government addressing our concerns?” Shukla asked.
He said the government had not expressed its vision or presented its roadmap to address the concerns of the protesting Madhesi and Tharu forces.
Shukla said the PM’s speech in the Parliament a few days ago that genuine demands could be resolved through constitutional amendment was very vague and not enough to win the confidence of the protesting forces.
“If the government wants to build environment for talks, it must give its vision of how it wants to address protesting parties’ concerns, particularly with regard to provincial boundaries,” Shukla said and added that the government appeared to be acting with the intent of postponing the protests in the Madhes and not addressing the protesters’ grievances. “We are ready to hold dialogue, but we will not withdraw or postpone our protest programmes,” he clarified.
General Secretary of Sadbhawana Party Manish Kumar Suman said the PM’s letter showed that the government was only concerned about Kathmandu but not about Madhesis who want their rights protected in the new constitution. He said talks would be possible between the government and the protesting forces only if the issues of Madhes were given priority.
The PM’s Press Adviser Pramod Dahal said a similar invite had been sent to protesting Tharu forces, but Tharu leaders said they were yet to receive the invite.
A version of this article appears in print on October 18, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.