Madhesi parties intensify campaigns as hope revives for consensus

Published On: April 10, 2017 05:01 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, APRIL 9: As the hope for political consensus revives four weeks ahead of the local elections scheduled for May 14, top guns of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) have intensified what appear like 'poll campaigns in the disguise of protest' in tarai districts.

The growing activities of the Madhes-based parties on the ground have been viewed meaningfully as the agitating parties have not yet officially initiated their poll campaigns.

UDMF leaders said that the sudden increase in the number of political rallies and mass campaigns should be viewed as the preparation to mobilize their support base “for or against” the polls based on the outcomes of the informal talks taking place to resolve the Madhes crisis.

The regional parties are keenly waiting for the proposal the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) would put forth before deciding their next move.

Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) Senior Vice Chairman Hridayesh Tripathi said that the ongoing campaigns of the Madhesi parties should be seen as their preparation to mobilize support base for or against the polls depending on how things unfold.

“We are keeping our support base prepared to campaign against the polls. If our demands are met, the ongoing campaigns will be automatically converted into poll campaigns,” said Tripathi.

Almost all top leaders of TMDP including party chairman Mahanta Thakur, vice chairmen Brisesh Chandra Lal and Tripathi have visited various districts of Province-2 and proposed Province-5 in the recent weeks.

Similarly, senior leaders of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal and Sadbhavana Party are launching similar campaigns.  Leaders said that they are still hopeful of a political breakthrough.

“There is still room for consensus if the government shows enough sincerity. We are still hopeful that the government will put forth a win-win offer. If that happens, there is no reason to doubt our participation in the polls,” said Sadbhavana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato.  Recent political developments have signaled some progress in the informal negotiation between the government and the Madhesi parties. 

On Saturday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that the government would soon table a new amendment proposal to resolve the Madhes crisis. Dahal also claimed that the Madhes-based parties will support the proposal.

UDMF leaders said that they are ready to put issues related to federal boundaries on hold for the time being if the top parties show flexibility to address their other demands. 

Besides the demarcation of federal boundaries, demands of the Madhesi parties include increasing the number of local units in tarai in proportion to the population and forming a powerful federal commission to resolve the demarcation issue before going to the federal polls. They have also demanded to curtail the power of local bodies and endorse the constitution amendment bill pertaining to language, citizenship and representation in the Upper House.

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