Congress leader Ram Chandra Paudel and UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal ready to consider the issue of federal units

KATHMANDU: A day after the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML slammed the UCPN-Maoist for its ‘volte-face’ on the 11-pradesh proposal, the two parties offered an olive branch today saying there was no alternative to consensus and they were willing to be flexible.

Congress leader Ram Chandra Paudel and UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said they were ready to consider the issue of federal units hours after UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the validity of the 11-pradesh proposal did not exist anymore as it was contested by other major stakeholders including the United Democratic Madhesi Front.

The UCPN-M had agreed to 11 pradeshes on Tuesday with the NC and UML. These parties did not, however, ink a formal deal, which analysts believe was an attempt to feel the pulse of other stakeholders.

Paudel told reporters at the CA building that there was no alternative to consensus and the number of pradeshes could either be more or less than 11. “We may agree on six, seven pradeshes or it could even be 11 or 12 pradeshes,” Paudel said, adding that their agreement a few days ago had not been in black and white.

UML Chair Jhala Nath Khanal said they were ready to compromise for the sake of consensus because if the constitution was not framed on time, then the country could face a bleak future. “The number of Pradeshes can come down to six. It is not that there has to be either 10 or 11 or 14 pradeshes,” Khanal said.

Sources said NC and UML negotiators had reacted angrily against the Maoists yesterday because they felt the Maoists did not keep their word and were kow-towing Madhesi forces.

Earlier, Dahal received a charter of demand signed by 320 Madhesi and Janajati lawmakers.

Dahal said consensus among all stakeholders was necessary to frame a new constitution. “Agreement between three parties only cannot be consensus,” Dahal said and added the three-party understanding was not formalised, nor was it brought to the Problem Resolution Sub-Committee of the CA for discussion.

Today’s memorandum, he said, reflected the will of the stakeholders, which could help the PRSC resolve unsettled issues. “We cannot frame a new constitution by May 27 unless we forge consensus. This document will serve as a sound basis for reaching consensus. I thank you all for this,” Dahal remarked. He hoped the other major parties would take the Madhesi and Janajati lawmakers’ demand positively. “I will strive to build positive momentum on the issues that you have raised,” Dahal assured the leaders.

Before handing over the charter of demand to Dahal, UML lawmaker Prithvi Subba Gurung said the states should be carved out on the lines of the report presented by CA’s thematic committee and State Restructuring Commission.

The memorandum also demands proportional representation of all communities in the state bodies and autonomous and protected regions for marginalised communities.byRAM KUMAR KAMAT / PRAKASH ACHARYA THT

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