Standoff between Prachanda, Madhesis continues in Nepal

Kathmandu, Jan 30 (IANS) Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ held another round of inconclusive talks with the Nepali Congress and the Madhesi Morcha on Monday as the Morcha said a firm no to local body polls before broad-based constitutional amendments.

The Morcha alleges that the Prime Minister has repeatedly failed to keep his promises made to them while assuming office in August last year.

“It has been almost six months that he has been in power, but he has not been able to amend the Constitution to address the demands of various groups and communities, including those based on federal demarcation, language and citizenship, among others, to make the constitution more broad-based,” a Morcha leader charged.

Madhesis in Nepal, who are mostly of Indian origin, also held a six-month-long agitation last year.

The parties could not reach an agreement in the nearly two-hour consultations held at Prachanda’s residence. Several rounds of talks have taken place since Prachanda came to power, but progress has always eluded such deliberations.

In the meeting, Prachanda proposed to take forward the issues of constitutional amendment and elections to the local bodies, simultaneously.

But the unrelenting Madhesi Front leaders said that no election would be allowed unless the issue of constitutional amendment is fixed. It was then that the parties agreed to hold another meeting aimed at seeking consensus on the two contentious issues.

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said: “An agreement has been reached to finalise the issue of constitutional amendment and elections after consultations among the parties by Wednesday.”

The main opposition, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), which is against any amendment to the constitution, has also been invited for consultations on Wednesday.

Shrestha said that while PM Dahal is pushing for the constitutional amendment and the poll process to go simultaneously, the Madhesi Front wants the amendments finalised before announcing the date for elections.

The increasingly impatient Morcha has announced that they will hold fresh protests in Nepal’s southern Terai region next week to mount pressure on the government for amendment of the Constitution to meet their demands.

“We have decided to hold protests at all the district headquarters of Madhes-based districts on February 5 to demand implementation of a three-point agreement it had signed on August 3 — the day Prachanda took over as the premier with the support of the Morcha,” said a Morcha leader.

Prachanda had committed to address the Morcha’s demands through an amendment to the constitution, he added.

Prachanda has also failed to announce local body polls, a constitutionally-mandated task. The agitating Madhes-based parties have been saying that they will not allow elections if the constitution is not amended to accommodate their expectations.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at