Kathmandu, November 15
Top leaders of the ruling parties and the Nepali Congress, the principal opposition party, and the United Democratic Madhesi Front today held talks for the first time to find a solution to the Tarai unrest but failed to reach any deal.
The UDMF has been agitating in Madhes seeking amendment to the constitution, including change in the provincial boundaries.
UDMF negotiator Laxman Lal Karna, who is also the Co-chairperson of Sadbhawana Party, said the major parties put forth their old stances seeking UDMF’s support to proceed with the Constitution Amendment Bill (registered by Sushil Koirala-led government).
The major parties also urged the UDMF to agree to the formation of a political mechanism to address the issues of provincial boundaries, but the latter rejected their offer.
Karna said the UDMF leaders told the major parties’ leaders that they wanted all their demands be addressed in a package deal and such a deal should be reached in a day or two. Karna said the UDMF leaders also told the major parties that they would lift their blockade of border entry points only after a package deal was reached. “We have no new demands.
The state has signed agreements with us in the past. We told them to read those agreements and implement them,” Karna told THT.
The UDMF has been saying that the eight-point agreement signed with it in the past and 22-point agreement signed with the erstwhile Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal should be implemented.
Karna said if an agreement was not reached with government and the major parties soon, the UDMF would intensify its agitation by sending its supporters to blockade other border entry points as well.
Parliamentary party leader of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Ashok Kumar Rai said it was an informal meeting with the leaders of the ruling parties and principal opposition Nepali Congress but the major parties did not come up with a solution.
“We did not find them serious about seeking negotiated settlement. They want to use negotiation as a strategy to tire the agitating parties out,” Rai added.
Rai said the UDMF leaders told the major parties that they want their 11-point demands addressed. The 11-point demands were prepared on the basis of eight-point and 22-point demands.
UDMF’s 11-point demands include guarantee of proportional inclusion in all state organs, demarcation of provincial boundaries on the basis of the report of erstwhile State Restructuring Commission, recognition of more than one language as official language of the federal government and provincial government and demarcation of election constituencies on the basis of population.
Rai said they told the major parties that the UDMF had to resort to agitation and blockade as last option and the solution to the problems lay in the hands of the major parties.
Major parties’ leaders told UDMF negotiators that they would consult among themselves and would hold formal dialogue with them soon.
Among those who took part in the negotiation representing the UDMF were Karna, Rai, Upendra Yadav, Mahantha Thakur and Mahendra Ray Yadav. NC leaders Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ramchandra Paudel also attended the meeting.
NC leaders took part in such a meeting for the first time. The ruling parties’ leaders, who attended the meeting, included Unified CPN-Maoist Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal, senior leader of the party Narayan Kaji Shrestha, UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal leader Dilnath Giri.
A version of this article appears in print on November 16, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.