Kathmandu, Feb 19 (IANS) A day after the government formed a political mechanism – a 11-member panel – to consider demands vis-a-vis the provincial boundaries, the main opposition Nepali Congress and agitating Samykta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) on Friday formally refused to be a part of it, saying it was formed ‘unilaterally’.
In a press statement, SLMM – an umbrella alliance of agitating Madhes-based parties – said the mechanism was formed unilaterally when efforts to seek a consensus were on through talks and negotiations.
The formation of the political mechanism was a last ditch effort by the Nepal government to address the demand of the agitating Morcha activists under the new constitution.
Earlier, the government amended the constitution in a bid to address the demands of the Morcha and made the constitution more inclusive.
“The Morcha believes the unilateral mechanism, which is supposed to resolve the problem, cannot address our demands. And we reject such mechanism,” said the statement issued by the seven Madhes-based parties on Friday.
The statement said the mechanism was formed as part of a design to foil protests launched by the minorities and backward communities, including Madhesis, and appease ‘foreigners’ instead of addressing the problem.
On Thursday night, just a day before Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s scheduled India visit, the Nepal government announced the 11-member mechanism headed by the deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs Kamal Thapa and including leaders from the agitating Madhes-based parties.
The panel is expected to suggest an appropriate solution to address the demands of revising the provincial boundaries within three months.
Similarly, the main opposition Nepali Congress, which took the lead to address the demands of the agitating parties, also refused to have anything to do with the unilateral decision of the government.
“We were kept out of the process; so we are not going to own up the mechanism,” said Nepali Congress leader Mahesh Acharya.
“We were in talks and we were about to complete the negotiation with agitating parties but the unilateral formation of mechanism has sent a negative message,” he said.
It is widely believed in Kathmandu that Prime Minister Oli wanted to send some positive signal to India ahead of his Delhi visit and so decided to form the mechanism as a symbolic gesture rather than for any other reason.
India has been consistently maintaining that there is a need to address the demands of the agitating parties by making the new constitution more inclusive as it has huge security implications on its borders.
(Anil Giri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)