Madhesi agitation: Constitution amendment in Nepal to address issues

Kathmandu, November 23: Offering a ray of hope towards ending the protracted Madhesi agitation against the year-old Nepali Constitution, the Madhesi Morcha on Wednesday consented to the tabling of a statute-amending proposal mooted by the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre) – Nepali Congress alliance.

An understanding in this regard was reached during a joint meeting here of the ruling alliance and the agitating Madeshi Morcha — or the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF). The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

The government had sought a formal meeting with UMDF leaders in its final attempt to reach agreement on the amendment proposal after failing in its bid with the main opposition Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) [CPN-UML].

Madhes Samajbadi Party General Secretary Keshav Jha later said the leaders reached an agreement to table the amendment in Parliament within two days.

Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Chairman Mahantha Thakur clarified that they had only agreed for the tabling of the amendment motion and will decide upon forwarding the motion only after studying its contents.

The meeting, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, assigned the task of tabling the amendment proposal to Prime Minister Prachanda.

Madhes-centric parties, following the promulgation of the new constitution in September last year, launched a violent anti-statute protest in the southern Terai region of Nepal which saw blockading of all major access points linked with India.

The almost eight-month-long stir resulted in an economic and trade blockade of the Himalayan nation and caused immense suffering to people in the land-locked country. The agitation, which saw a brutal crackdown by the law-enforcing authorities, claimed at least 59 lives.

However, in evidence of dissension within the Madhesi Morcha, a section of Madhes-based parties and Janajatis/Adivasis led by Upendra Yadav expressed strong reservations against the move.

Any proposal that cannot deal with and address the grievances of minority communities which have suffered since centuries will be just a waste of time, Yadav said while registering his protest over the government move.

Issues pertaining to the boundary of seven provinces, proportional representation in the National Assembly, citizenship, language, and making the constitution more friendly to the minority communities will be incorporated in the proposal, it was learnt.

Main opposition CPN-UML lambasted the proposal as “anti-national” and warned that it will protest in Parliament and take to the streets if the amendment was passed. IANS