Madhesi leaders told that the issue of federal boundaries nonnegotiable for now but govt flexible on other concerns
KATHMANDU, April 14: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday reached out to the Madhes-based parties expressing his government's readiness to address their remaining grievances over all disputed issues except the federal boundaries.
A day after the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of seven agitating parties, rejected the new constitution amendment bill registered at parliament and announced to boycott the local polls scheduled for May 14, PM Dahal talked to Madhesi leaders over the phone and urged them to return to negotiation table.
Dahal's close aides said that the PM separately urged Federal Socialist Forum Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chair Mahantha Thakur and Sadbhavana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato and asked them to return to the negotiation table.
During the conversation, Dahal told the Madhesi leaders that the government was ready to show flexibility on all issues save issues pertaining to the federal boundaries. He also said that the government was committed to bringing the agitating parties on board the elections process.
“The issue of federal boundaries is non-negotiable for now but there is still room for flexibility on other issues. He (PM Dahal) has conveyed the same message to the Madhesi leaders,” Chakrapani Khanal, PM Dahal's chief political advisor, told Republica.
Close aides of Dahal said that the PM was surprised by Wednesday's announcement of the Madhes-based parties to boycott the polls. They also claim that the bill was registered at the Parliament Secretariat after consultations with the Madhesi parties.
“Several UDMF leaders including Rajendra Shrestha were involved in drafting the bill. The bill properly reflects the concerns put forth by the Madhesi parties during closed door meeting,” said CPN (Maoist Center) Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal. The new bill seeks to curtail the powers of chief and deputy chief of rural municipalities and municipalities.
The 11-point bill also seeks to allow parliament to revise boundaries and form federal commission.
The Madhesi leaders have welcomed the fresh initiative taken by PM Dahal to forge consensus. They said that they were still open to resolve the differences through talks.
“We are not against the elections. We are more than willing to take part in the polls. But the government should do what it promised to do before going to the polls,” said Sadbhavana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato.
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chair Mahantha Thakur said that they are open to talks but stressed the need for meaningful talks. He said that the election was unacceptable to the Madhesi parties under the existing circumstances.
“We sat together hundreds of times in the last few years. But those talks were futile. Holding talks will be meaningless unless the government changed its attitude,” said Thakur.