‘There is a silver lining in current standoff’

Kathmandu, December 23

CPN-UML Secretary Pradip Gyawali today said there was a silver lining in the current standoff between the major parties/government and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front.

Addressing an interaction organised by Nepal Law Society on ‘Constitutional/political dialogue to resolve the present conflict, here today, Gyawali said although the UDMF had termed the government’s three-point roadmap ‘abstract and incomplete’, the statement was, however, not negative.

He said the major parties would try to address the UDMF’s concerns in the process of implementing the Constitution Amendment Bill.

“Sometimes forging consensus on the contents takes time. Today’s provincial boundaries might not remain intact for ever.

We need to formulate a policy regarding what we will do if any area wants to merge with or split from the provinces,” he said, adding that if the terms of reference was prepared for the political mechanism, that could settle the boundary question and win the confidence of agitating forces.

He said issues of provincial boundaries should be tackled carefully or else one conflict could give rise to others.

On citizenship issues, Gyawali said he was ready to change the phrasing ‘in accordance with federal law,’ as far as conferring naturalised citizenship to foreign women married to Nepali nationals was concerned.

He said the list of the constitutional posts that naturalised citizens are barred from contesting can be reduced,” he added.

Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal said his party was positive about incorporating UDMF’ concerns in the Constitution Amendment Bill. “There are many clusters for reservations under the new constitution compared to the Interim Constitution.

Even the Election Commission told me that they would be unable to hold election on the basis of new clusters,” Rijal said, adding, that they were ready to discuss the proportional inclusion issues.

He said geography was also one principle being practised across the globe while delineating election constituencies and under the current provision Madhes would not lose much.

Unified CPN-Maoist leader Ram Narayan Bidari said his party supported the agendas of the UDMF as they were similar to the note of dissents his party had registered on the new constitution.

He said the parties should be ready to amend the citizenship provision to ensure that the rights of naturalised citizens, for those who have acquired citizenship through marriage are not curtailed.

He, however, said when he was his party’s representative in the task force in the run up to the constitution making process, he had argued that the provisions of the Interim Constitution related to delineation of the election constituencies should not be scrapped, but others did not buy his arguments.

On the issue of boundary, he said parties should be ready to settle the issues through a Federal Commission, which would act on the report of a political mechanism.

General Secretary of Sadbhawana Party Manish Kumar Suman said it was their compulsion to resort to movement and they would not abandon their movement until their demands were met.

He said the constitution’s provision on citizenship, proportional inclusion; provincial boundaries and election constituencies did not do justice to the Madhesis and Madhes.

He said clusters for reservation had unnecessarily been increased and anybody could get citizenship of farmer and youth and misuse the provision of reservation.

On the issue of provincial boundaries, he said principles of demarcation of federal units had already been fixed in the first CA and that should be followed to change the boundaries.

Executive Director of Nepal Law Society Krishna Man Pradhan said his office had facilitated debate on the constitution and had formed dialogue centres in all zones to facilitate the implementation of the constitution.