PM proposes, Madhesi front disposes

  • UDMF leaders turn down prime minister’s proposal to hold provincial, parliamentary polls after passing amendment bill if the front agrees to civic polls

Kathmandu, March 1

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal today proposed that if the United Democratic Madhesi Front accepted local level polls, the parties attending today’s meeting could commit that they would not hold provincial and parliamentary polls without ensuring passage of the constitution amendment bill. UDMF leaders, however, turned down the PM’s offer and made it clear that they would not accept polls unless a revised constitution amendment bill was passed.

According to CPN-Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the PM argued that local level polls were not linked to the issues relating to provincial boundaries. He even assured UDMF he would increase the number of local levels in Province 2 and also de-link the voting rights of chiefs and deputy chiefs of local levels in the Upper House.

Talking to THT, Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said UDMF leaders turned down the PM’s proposal. “A huge movement took place in Madhes against the new constitution and dozens of Madhesis attained martyrdom. After the sacrifice made by Madhesis, the UDMF could not take part in local polls without ensuring passage of a revised constitution amendment bill,” Mahato said.

According to Mahato, the prime minister and Nepali Congress leaders told the five-party meeting, which was also attended by Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chief Kamal Thapa and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic Chair Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, that since the bill did not have the support of two-third majority in the Parliament, the UDMF should accept polls and seek to address their concerns after local polls.

According to Mahato, UDMF leaders demanded that the ruling parties and the government should try to ensure passage of the constitution amendment bill now rather than seeking to pass it after two months, as the political situation could get complicated later. “If the bill is not passed now, the UDMF will boycott the polls and there could be disruptions,” Mahato said.

UDMF leaders also told the PM that the three types of elections - parliamentary, provincial and local – could be held simultaneously.

According to Mahato, RPP Chair Kamal Thapa proposed that contents of the constitution amendment bill other than those related to the revision of provincial boundaries could be passed now.  General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha said UDMF would not take part in local level polls unless a revised constitution amendment bill was passed.

The PM, meanwhile, said his efforts to ensure passage of the constitution amendment bill would continue.

After the five-party meeting, the NC and CPN-MC leaders held a meeting with RPP Chair Thapa and MJF-D Chair Gachhadar and decided to make preparations for civic polls.