UDMF to hold demonstrations in Tarai

Kathmandu, January 28

The United Democratic Madhesi Front today decided to hold rallies in Tarai districts on February 5 demanding passage of a revised constitution amendment bill. The front will also burn copies of the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission's report on the same day.

General Secretary of Sadbhawana Party Manish Kumar Suman said a meeting of the front decided to organise protest rallies on February 5 in 22 Tarai districts to mount pressure on the government to ensure passage of a revised constitution amendment bill.

The LBRC's report has violated constitutional provisions and negated the principle of representation by population, he argued. "The LBRC prepared the report without visiting a dozen districts of the Tarai," he said. The LBRC report proposed to create 719 local bodies but only 35 per cent local bodies were in Tarai districts.

"We are sceptical of the government's intention because Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal tells us he will not announce polls before the constitution amendment bill is passed, and when he meets Nepali Congress and CPN-UML leaders he tells them he will announce poll dates in six days. His statements worry us," Suman said.

He said the UDMF leaders also fear that the big three parties — the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre could join hands to ignore the concerns of the UDMF and other agitating forces. "We have clearly told the government that if polls are announced before a revised constitution amendment bill is passed, we will disrupt the polls," Suman added.

UDMF leaders expressed doubt about the fate of constitution amendment bill as debate on the bills remain stalled, whereas election-related bills are being passed by the Parliament. "In the last two months, the government did just two things, one day it registered the constitution amendment bill and another day it tabled the bill. Nothing more happened on the bill, no debate, nothing," Suman said and added that the bill could be passed in 15 days if the stakeholders made serious efforts.

General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha said UDMF leaders were of the view that they should wait for some time to see whether or not a revised constitution amendment bill was passed before deciding on hitting the streets.

"Leaders were of the view that if a revised constitution amendment bill was not passed, then the UDMF should resort to movement after serving an ultimatum to the government," Jha said and added that the UDMF would see what progress a newly formed informal task force comprising Barshaman Pun from CPN-Maoist Centre, Ramesh Lekhak from the Nepali Congress and Laxman Lal Karna from the UDMF could make on revision of the constitution amendment bill.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak said the government was trying to address the basic demands of the UDMF but the latter should also be prepared to be flexible given the tug-of-war between various forces.