EDITORIAL: Common stance

The new deal with the Madhesi parties must ensure the right of other hilly Pradeshes that they will have an easy and uninterrupted access to international borders

The three major political parties – Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist – today reached an understanding to resolve the ongoing Madhes agitation. According to the understanding, the major parties have agreed to address the two major demands of the agitating parties – parliamentary constituencies to be delineated in accordance with the distribution of population keeping intact at least one constituency in the existing 75 districts and issues of inclusion as fundamental right – making an amendment in the constitution with the consent of the agitating parties. These two amendment proposals were tabled by the erstwhile government led by Sushil Koirala. However, the KP Sharma Oli-led coalition government was reluctant to move forward the amendment proposal as the agitating parties had said that the move would not address their demands for redrawing the boundaries of the federal units. The major parties have also agreed in principle to form a high-level political committee to review the boundaries of the federal units. The political committee which will be represented by the three major parties, other parties in the coalition and the agitating ones will try its best to resolve the boundary issue within three months from the date of its formation.

Yesterday’s decision of the three major parties is a positive sign towards resolving the issues raised by the agitating Madhesi parties for the last three months. Supplies of essential goods, including petroleum products, medicine and other raw materials imported from third countries have been disrupted partly due to the agitation and particularly due to the blockade from India citing agitation within Nepal. The leaders engaged in the talks said the major parties’ decision to make the first constitutional amendment and to form a political committee to resolve the boundary issue were their common stance on the 11-point demands put forth by the Madhes-based parties. The major parties have also made it clear that some of the demands put forth by the agitators cannot be met as they will compromise national interests.

The three months’ time sought by the major political parties to resolve the boundaries of the federal units can be justified as it is a very sensitive issue which also needs to be discussed with major stakeholders and communities. While redrawing the boundaries of the federal units in Pradesh No-2 (Madhes) and Pradesh No-5 (Tharu dominated Tarai districts) the major parties and the agitating groups must also take into account the genuine concerns of other federal units. Any deal to be reached with the Madhesi parties should not hurt the sentiments and expectations of the people of other Pradeshes. The new deal with the Madhesi parties must ensure the right of other hilly Pradeshes that they will have an easy and uninterrupted access to international borders or customs points. The Madhes-centric parties should also express firm commitment to the nation that they will not resort to blocking the customs points and disturb the highways in the future to get their demands addressed. People always support peaceful agitation for genuine causes. Coercive tactics against the entire nation will ultimately backfire to those who resort to it.

Timely warning

We are now in the winter season and it is getting chilly particularly at higher altitudes. According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division, the weather in the country would deteriorate for a couple of days because of the westerly trough. It is expected that there will be light to moderate snowfall in the high mountainous region. Thus, the weathermen have issued a warning to trekkers and mountain flights to exercise extra caution. Those at the Met office should be commended for issuing the timely warning, which will possibly help save precious human lives learning from past disasters.

Rainfall is also predicted in various parts of the country including the Kathmandu valley. However, it is expected that the weather will improve in the western region from today. Cloudy weather is being forecast in the eastern region. As it is getting colder there is need for warm clothes and shelter. Many earthquake victims, as a result, will undergo immense hardship unless they are provided with the essential relief material without further delay.