KATHMANDU, Dec 31: In an attempt to allay the concerns of the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) that the major parties were headed toward election without amending the constitution, the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has told the UDMF that that the election will be held only after amending the constitution.
During a meeting with UDMF leaders Friday afternoon, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba said his party has not changed its original stance that the elections should be held only after amending the constitution. "The NC has assured us that the constitution amendment bill and election-related bills would be tabled together in parliament. The election will be held only after endorsing the constitution amendment bill," said General Secretary of National Madhes Socialist Party Keshav Jha.
The UDMF had sought a meeting with NC top leaders after it grew concerned over an alleged understanding this week among the major parties to hold local election without amending the constitution. Mahantha Thakur, Mahendra Yadav, Raj Kishor Yadav, Anil Jha, Laxman Lal Karna, and Ram Sahaya Yadav were among the UDMF leaders present at the meeting with NC President Deuba, Prakash Man Singh and Gopal Man Shrestha.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, NC leader Shrestha said the UDMF agreed to go to the election if the seven-point constitution amendment bill is endorsed by parliament. "The constitution amendment bill and election related bills will be tabled together in parliament. There is a practice to table bills in parliament even in the face of protests," he said, while adding that the ruling parties would move ahead even if the opposition parties protested in parliament.
The UDMF leaders had asked NC about the latter's position on the constitution amendment bill. They had even complained that the ruling parties were not serious enough about amending the constitution.
However, the NC leaders told the UDMF that the NC had not backtracked on its responsibility to endorse the amendment bill, and the party would make sure that the constitution is amended before the election is held. "The amendment bill and election-related bills will be tabled together in parliament," Deuba had told in the meeting, while brushing aside apprehensions of Madhesi leaders.
Chairman of the Federal Socialist Forum NepalMadhesi People's Rights Forum-Nepal Upendra Yadav said election is not possible without first amending the constitution. "Amendment to the constitution is a must for addressing the concerns of the Madhesi, indigenous nationalities, dalits and other marginalized groups and for holding the elections," Yadav told Republica over the phone from Janakpur.
Earlier in the day, a meeting of the UDMF had decided to back the seven-point amendment bill registered by the government in parliament. The meeting also decided to hold mass demonstrations in the headquarters of all tarai-Madhes districts on January 2 to exert pressure on the government to push forward the amendment bill.