Koirala’s initiatives could start amendment process

The newly adopted Constitution of Nepal might undergo the first round of amendments if the latest round of consultations being held by former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala becomes successful. Mr. Koirala, who was away in the U.S. for treatment, returned on Thursday and summoned Mahanta Thakur, chairperson of Tarai Madhesh Loktantrik Party, for a meeting.

Following the meeting, Mr. Thakur told The Hindu from Kathmandu that Mr. Koirala has requested for all Madhesi parties to come on board for the necessary amendments. “We had extensive discussion on the process of amendments and we will work to build consensus. The process of change will begin very soon,” said Mr. Thakur.

However, Nepali government sources informed that Mr. Koirala’s initiative followed the multi-party meeting held on November 22 at the residence of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.

“In the last all party meeting on November 22, Prime Minister Oli had requested all parties to reach out individually to the Madhesis and Mr. Koirala’s outreach is an outcome of that decision which was based on consensus,” said Pradeep Gyawali, secretary, central secretariat (CPN-UML).

Mr. Gyawali added that two amendments have already been registered in the Parliament and they will begin the process of internal adjustments for addressing the grievance of the Madhesi people. “The first will be the amendment for Article 42 which covers guarantees for social justice and the second will cover the issue of proportional representation based on population share in constituencies”, he explained.

But the dialogue between former Prime Minister Koirala and Mr. Thakur has failed to pacify the more demanding Madhesi leaders. Upendra Yadav, leader of Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum-Nepal (SSF-N) told The Hindu that the Nepali leadership is not willing to recognise several other important issues.

He said the ties between the government and the Madhesis have become more complex in the last three months due to rapid militarisation of the Madhes region and suppression of people’s rights. “The first demand is demilitarisation of Madhes. Nepali government has to give due recognition to Hindi and Madhesi culture. That apart they will have to give concrete guarantees on citizenship rights of the Madhesi people,” said Mr. Yadav, underlining the differences that Mr. Koirala and Mr. Thakur might have to bridge.

Upendra Yadav told The Hindu that not all constituents of the United Madhesi Democratic Front have been approached. He also pointed out that Kathmandu needs to stop the police violence which on November 22 led to the death of at least four protesters. Actions of the Nepali police in the eastern district of Saptari has been harsh and led to several deaths on November 22.

However, Mr. Koirala’s personal involvement, in his present capacity as the leader of the Opposition, has convinced some sections of the Madhesis that government’s assurances are sincere. Mahant Thakur said Friday’s meeting is a clear sign that the blockade will end. “We have received clear signals and will travel in Terai region to convince others to come on board so that the amendments can begin and the blockade can end,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 12:19:44 PM |

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