Agitating parties to take part in polls if govt revises amendment

Published On: April 22, 2017 08:22 AM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala/Ashok Dahal

Formal deal likely today 

KATHMANDU, April 22: The agitating Madhes-based parties have agreed to participate in the upcoming local election if the constitution amendment bill in parliament is endorsed with some revisions as agreed during a meeting held between the two sides on Friday.

Although the two sides reached an understanding on the issues to be revised in the amendment bill during a meeting held at the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar Friday, they have agreed to clinch a formal deal only on Saturday. The meeting has formed a task force comprising  senior leaders from both  sides to finalize the draft of the agreement as per the understanding reached during Friday’s meeting.

The task force comprising  NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Buddhi Man Tamang of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Laxman Lal Karna of Rastriya Janata Party, and Rajendra Shrestha of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) will finalize the draft agreement before the government and the agitating parties meet again at 2 pm, Saturday. 

Chairman of FSFN Upendra Yadav and senior leader of the newly formed Rastriya Janata Party Mahantha Thakur were conspicuously absent from the meeting.

The constitution amendment bill currently in  parliament will be revised through an amendment  as per the agreement to be reached between the government and agitating parties on Saturday. 

Earlier, the government had registered an 11-point constitution amendment bill  after withdrawing a previous amendment bill. But the amendment process could not be expedited as both the agitating parties and the opposition alliance refused to back it.

The deal between the government and the agitating parties is hugely important as it will remove uncertainty  over the local polls scheduled for May 14. The protests of the agitating Madhes-based parties have made it difficult for major political parties to launch poll campaign activities in various districts of Province 2 so far. 

NC senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel said there has been agreement to revise the current  amendment bill and the agitating parties will in return  participate in the upcoming election.  “We have agreed to make some revisions in the amendment bill that is currently in  parliament and all parties will then take part in the election. For this, we will meet again at 2 pm tomorrow after finalizing the points of revision in the current amendment proposal,” Paudel told media persons after the meeting.

Paudel said the two sides have reached  an understanding to revise provisions regarding the language of official business, and to increase the number of local units in the plains districts. As per the understanding reached between the two sides,  only the consent of the provincial assembly concerned will be required to revise the boundary of a federal province.  “There are only some minor issues for revision. Some of the provisions already in the amendment bill will be clarified further as per the demands of the agitating parties,” Paudel further said. 

Among other things, the agitating parties have demanded that the government declare those killed in the Madhes movement as martyrs, withdraw court cases against their cadres, increase the number of local units in the plains districts, and defer the election for a few weeks. They have also demanded a political agreement on other issues including the revision of federal boundaries.

Asked if they will now participate in the upcoming local polls, Co-Chairman of Upendra Yadav-led FSFN Rajendra Shrestha said they are ready to take part if the government creates a conducive environment. “We will take this election in a positive manner if they (ruling parties) agreed to revise the amendment bill as per our demands,” he told media. 
Shrestha, however, said that even after the constitutional amendment the local polls scheduled  for May 14 must be deferred to ensure the participation of the agitating parties

. “Then FSFN will come, Morcha [UDMF] will come and all other parties will come to the election,” he  said.

Asked if the ruling parties had already agreed to hold the election in two phases as per the demands of the agitating parties, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said the polls could be held in two phases if the agitating parties stand ready to join the election. “We have agreed to revise the current amendment bill in consensus with the agitating Madhesi parties. The election can be held in two phases if the Morcha [UDMF] comes to a consensus for participating in the polls,” he said.

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