UDMF warns against unilateral announcement of polls

Kathmandu, January 24

The United Democratic Madhesi Front, an alliance of major Madhes-based parties, today warned the government not to announce election dates unilaterally.

In a meeting held at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar this evening, UDMF leaders, demanded that their concerns be addressed first before announcing election dates.

The government is under pressure to declare poll dates soon to meet the constitutional deadline of holding all three tiers of elections — local, provincial and parliamentary — by 21 January 2018.

Senior leaders of ruling parties and UDMF attended the meeting called by PM Dahal.

Senior Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel and Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi were also present.

Updendra Yadav of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, Mahantha Thakur of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, Keshav Jha of Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party, Anil Jha of Nepal Sadbhawana Party, and Rajendra Mahato of Sadbhawana Party were also present.

“We have told PM Dahal that we will cut-off all relations with the government if election date is announced without our consent,” Sadbhawana Party Co-chair Laxman Lal Karna told The Himalayan Times.

He said all UDMF leaders, who were present in the meeting demanded passage of a revised constitution amendment bill from the House before announcing election schedule.

UDMF has alleged that the proposed bill fell short of addressing the demands put forth by the Madhesis, Janajatis and other marginalised groups.

UDMF leaders also expressed dissatisfaction with the report prepared by the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission and asked the PM to form another mechanism to correct it.

In response, PM Dahal assured them that the ruling parties would declare election date after taking all the parties, including the UDMF on board.

“The PM assured us that the government would not declare elections unilaterally,” said Keshav Jha, general secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party.

He also claimed that PM Dahal and Nepali Congress leader Paudel agreed to take necessary steps towards presenting a supplementary bill to address the remaining concerns raised by Madhesi forces.