KATHMANDU, Dec 2: The Political Dialogue Committee (PDT), formed by the government three months ago to hold talks with the various disgruntled groups across the country and convince them to join and support the 'political mainstream', is preparing to 'wrap up work' without any success in reaching any agreement with any such group. The three-month term of the committee formed on August 29 has expired but the government has given it a new December 15 deadline to submit its report.
The dialogue team headed by former minister and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) parliamentarian Som Prasad Pandey held talks with 21 different disgruntled groups which have been expressing grievances on or protesting against various provisions of the new constitution. But the four-member team failed to strike any agreement with any such group.
During the past three months, the committee couldn't even hold official talks with the Netra Bikram Chand (Biplob)-led Communist Party Nepal (CPN), probably the strongest of the disgruntled voices, 'as Chand paid no heed to repeated approach for talks by the committee'. Similarly, the government talks team, on purpose, held no talks with the group-led by CK Raut who has been leading a secession campaign in Tarai-Madhes.
Coordinator of the PDT, Pandey said that official talks with CPN could not be held as its chief Chand didn't respond to their repeated approach for talks made through the second-rung' leaders of the party. “Chief of the party Chand didn't agree to sit for talks with our team despite repeated approach and efforts from us. Though we held informal dialogue with the party's second-rung leaders, they didn't have any mandate for talks,” said Pandey.
Chief of the Maoist breakaway faction Chand has not appeared at any public function for the last few months and his party has been warning of an armed struggle in the country. Chand's party staged a show of strength in the capital last week, "but didn't become ready for talks, questioning the intention of the government." NCP leader Suresh Ale Magar who worked closely with Chand during his affiliation with the then CPN-Maoist in the past, former lawmaker and NCP leader Tara Kanta Chaudhary and NCP leader Leela Kumari Bhandari are the members of the dialogue team.
PDT Coordinator Pandey said that they will not close the door for talks with the Chand-led party until the last day of the team's tenure but will not approach the CK Raut-led group "as its demand is non-political".
Asked about the progress in talks with the 21 fringe groups, Pandey said that the dialogue committee has prepared lists of the "cadres" of those groups currently serving sentence in various jails. “The demands of almost all groups will be met if the government agrees to releases their cadres serving jail terms in various prisons. We will mention the details of their cadres and cases against them to the government in our report which will be submitted to the government,” he said.
The PDT had received the names of a total of 1,186 prisoners from various groups which held talks with it initially but the number of such names was reduced to 595 after the details of the prisoners were sought, according to the secretariat of the dialogue team. Most of the fringe groups demanded the release of their cadres in jails across the country during the talks with the government talks team. According to the details obtained by the PDT from the Department of Prison, most of such "cadres"are in jail for committing various crimes including murder, theft, smuggling, drug possession and various other organized crimes. Only a few groups made political demands and are still active, according to a member of the PDT.
“One of the achievements of the dialogue team is to identify the strength and status of various disgruntled groups in the country. Most of such groups stopped existing long time ago according to our study,” said Pandey.