UDMF’s key concern to be addressed after May 14: PM

We’ll not accept local polls unless all our concerns are addressed

Kathmandu, March 31

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal today told the United Democratic Madhesi Front to seek revision of provincial boundaries after local polls but before provincial and parliamentary polls. Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav told THT after the meeting that talks were inconclusive.

“We’ll not accept local polls unless all our concerns, including revision of provincial boundaries, are addressed through constitution amendment,” he added.

According to a press release issued by the PM’s Personal Secretariat, the PM told the UDMF that all issues other than provincial boundaries would be resolved before the local polls and the UDMF should take part in polls slated for May 14.

According to the release, the PM told UDMF leaders that he was ready to include languages recommended by the Language Commission in the schedule of the constitution, to delink voting rights of chiefs and deputy chiefs of local levels in the Upper House of the Parliament, to form a Federal Commission for revising provincial boundaries, to determine the number of local levels in proportion to the population, to settle issues relating to revision of provincial boundaries before provincial and parliamentary polls and to resolve other issues raised by the UDMF on the basis of political understanding.

Spokesperson for the CPN-Maoist Centre Pampha Bhusal said the meeting authorised the PM to prepare a constitution amendment proposal after holding discussion with top leaders.

Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato said the PM assured UDMF leaders that five issues other than revision of provincial boundaries would be addressed and provincial boundaries would be revised through a powerful commission.

Mahato said he did not believe that the PM’s assurances would be fulfilled.

According to Mahato, the PM also assured UDMF leaders that the provision of Interim Constitution would be taken into account while addressing concerns on constitutional office bearers. Under the new constitution, naturalised citizens and citizens by birth are barred from assuming top constitutional posts.

Mahato said a joint task force of the ruling parties and the UDMF today submitted its report that suggested ways to revise provincial boundaries to be incorporated in the terms of reference of the federal commission on boundaries. The task force made two suggestions -- the Parliament can revise provincial boundaries with consent of the provinces concerned or by notifying the provinces concerned. Mahato said the UDMF was in favour of revising provincial boundaries after informing the provinces concerned.

Nepal Sadbhawana Party Chair Anil Kumar Jha said the new constitution curtailed the rights of marginalised communities ensured by the Interim Constitution and federalism was one way to compensate for that loss, but the PM talked of postponing federalism.

“Madhesis have made a big sacrifice after 2006 and it would be difficult for us to convince them if we take part in local polls without gaining any substantial rights,” Jha added.

General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha said the PM also assured  UDMF leaders that he would move another constitution amendment proposal through a fast track process in a few days to seek removal of restrictive clause of Article 274 of the constitution and deprive voting rights to chiefs and deputy chiefs in the Upper House. Jha said the PM also assured UDMF leaders that he would decide through the Cabinet to increase the number of local levels in Madhes.

Leaders associated with the ruling parties and the UDMF attended the meeting. Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and RPP Chair Kamal Thapa, were, however, not present in the meeting.