Govt working on amendment to address Madhes demands: Minister

Published On: October 10, 2018 07:54 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Oct 10: The government is working to bring amendments to the constitution to address the grievances of the Madhes-based parties, it is learnt.

A cabinet minister said preparations are underway to introduce an amendment bill in parliament after the festive season. “It may not be possible to meet all the demands put forth by the Madhes-based parties. But we will try to address their demands as far as possible,” the minister said on condition of anonymity.

The current government of the former UML and Maoists appears to be gradually softening its stance toward the demands of the Madhes-based parties. The then UML leaders had vehemently opposed any amendment to the constitution saying that the demands put forth by the Madhes-based parties were not rational and logical. 

The Madhes-based parties — Rastriya Janata Party, Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum, Nepal – have demanded amendments to various clauses of the constitution such as those relating to citizenship, election of member of national assembly, and language among other things. Similarly, the Madhes-based parties demanded administering oath of office and secrecy to RJPN lawmaker-elect Resham Chaudhary, who is currently in jail on the charge of masterminding the 2015 Tikapur massacre, and withdrawing ‘trumped-up’ cases against their cadres in the course of Madhes movement. 

Prime Minister KP Oli had assured top RJPN leaders that the government was serious about addressing the demands put forth by the RJPN. The RJPN leaders had visited his official residence in Baluwatar on Monday evening to submit a memorandum. 

“I have taken your demands seriously. As I was busy with the party unification work, these demands could not be addressed. Let us sit together again and discuss what can be done before Dashain,” RJPN General Secretary Keshav Jha quoted Prime Minister Oli as saying to the RJPN leaders.

Jha quoting top leaders said Prime Minister Oli proposed expediting the amendment process before the Tihar festival. However, RJPN leaders reportedly said that they would be happy even if their demands are addressed even after the Tihar and Chhath festivals.

The meeting of RJPN leaders with the prime minister came amid failure by the government to address their demands even as they extended support to the government following a three-point agreement. The RJPN has also threatened to withdraw its support to the government if the demands are not addressed soon.

RJPN has 17 lawmakers in the federal parliament. Senior RJPN leaders said they are under mounting pressure from the party’s lower rungs to withdraw support to the government for the government’s failure to heed their demands.

While RJPN chose to stay away from the government, another Madhes-centric party, FSFN joined the government. Although fissures between the two parties have emerged at the center, RJPN leaders said their coalition government in Province 2 will remain intact for now even if they have to withdraw support to the federal government.

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