Kathmandu, August 6
United Democratic Madhesi Front wants the government to table a constitution amendment bill within two months.
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Spokesperson Sarvendranath Shukla said the UDMF could discuss its participation in the Cabinet if a bill to amend the constitution was tabled in Parliament in the next two months, but delay would dampen the front’s chance of joining the government.
Chair of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Upendra Yadav and Chair of Sadbhawana Party Rajendra Mahato, however, said the front could join the government only after the constitution was amended.
On UDMF’s participation in the government, Shukla said, “A political force can join the government only when it thinks it has enough time to deliver. There are leaders in the ruling coalition who want the UDMF’s outside support but not its participation in the Cabinet.”
Such leaders, he added, might want to delay implementation of the three-point agreement signed a few days ago between the four forces — the Nepali Congress, CPN-MC, the Federal Alliance and UDMF.
Shukla said if the government tables a constitution amendment bill in Parliament, it will build pressure on the CPN-UML, which is opposed to the idea of amending the constitution to address the demands of the agitating forces. “Tabling the bill will give the message to the public and the international community that majority members of the House are in favour of issues raised by the agitating Madhesi forces,” Shukla said.
He said the NC and CPN-MC have realised in their seven-point agreement that the constitution was flawed. Shukla said, adding that UDMF leaders were of the view that it was easier to get their demands addressed from the street than by becoming part of the government.
Yadav said just tabling a bill in the Parliament will not serve the purpose. “If the bill fails in Parliament, we will have to hit the street again.”
Mahato said joining the government without getting the front’s demands addressed would betray the ‘martyrdom of five dozen people.’ Tabling a bill to amend the constitution in the Parliament alone should not become a ground for UDMF joining the government,” he added.
Mahato said the UDMF needed to mount pressure from the street against the CPN-UML and other forces who could oppose an amendment bill. “If a constitution amendment bill is tabled in the House, at least 40 Madhesi lawmakers of UML who represent the Madhes, will be under pressure to support it,” Mahato said, adding that if the UML still did not support the bill, it would lose its influence in Madhes.
When asked if the UDMF would join the government as media reports suggested that the foreign portfolio was reserved for him, Yadav said, “We won’t join the government till our demands are addressed. There are some who do not want Madhesi forces to be part of the government. They want to see Madhesi forces remaining weak forever.” Yadav said although they did not pressurise the NC and UCPN-M to state a time frame for tabling an amendment bill, it didn’t mean that was an indefinite process.
A version of this article appears in print on August 07, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.