We will issue an ultimatum to the govenrment to address our demands and if it is not met and if the ruling parties decide to go for elections nevertheless, we will withdraw our suppport to the government.
-- Keshav Jha, general secretary, Rastriya Madhes Samajbadi Party
KATHMANDU, Mar 1: Agitating Madhes-based political parties have rejected the proposal of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to put the constitution amendment bill on hold until the ruling parties secure requisite two-thirds majority votes in parliament.
Prime Minister Dahal made the proposal during a meeting with the top leaders of the agitating Madhes-based political parties on Tuesday. "Getting the amendment bill endorsed from parliament is still our top priority. But as we still do not have requisite two-thirds majority votes in parliament, so let us go for the local-level election scheduled for May 14," the prime minister had suggested at the meeting.
In an apparent bid to persuade the Madhes-based parties to go to the election, the prime minister also assured that the government would increase the number of local units in Madhes, and even remove the constitutional provision that allows chiefs and deputy chiefs of village and municipal councils to take part in the votes to elect members of the national assembly through a separate amendment bill.
Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prakash Man Singh, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and senior Maoist Center leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha were among those representing the ruling parties at the meeting. "We have not yet been able to garner requisite two-thirds majority votes in parliament. Let us now go to the local-level poll as failure to endorse the amendment bill is neither good for us nor good to you," General Secretary of Rastriya Madhes Samajbadi Party Keshav Jha quoted the prime minister as saying.
However, a meeting of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) held shortly after the meeting with the prime minister decided not to agree to the prime minister's proposal. "Our meeting decided to reject the proposal to put the constitution amendment bill on hold. We will neither register our parties at the EC, nor participate in the election until the amendment bill is endorsed with revisions," Jha further said.
The UDMF leaders have also warned that they would foil the government's any attempt to hold the election if their grievances related to the constitution are not addressed first.
While they have sought revisions within the seven-point constitutional amendment bill currently in parliament, the agitating Madhes-based parties on Monday put forth a new demand to include a separate provision in the constitution similar to Article 3 of the Indian Constitution. Such provision allows changing provincial boundaries, and merge or split any province without the consent of the concerned provincial assembly as opposed to the current provision in the constitution.
Tuesday's meeting between the top leaders of the ruling parties and the agitating Madhes-based parties did not last long as NC President Deuba said that he would personally speak to Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) Chairman Kamal Thapa and others to support the constitution amendment bill. "We are holding a meeting with the top leaders of the ruling parties tomorrow [Wednesday] as well. We will issue an ultimatum to the government to address our demands and if it is not met and if the ruling parties decide to go for elections nevertheless, we will withdraw our support to the government," Jha further said.