Uncertainty of new constitution at time, leaders blame each other’s party Dahal comes up with 10-pradesh model • Congress‚ UML reject‚ say breach of deal

KATHMANDU, May 22: The efforts of three major political partiesand United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) to arrive at a consensus on number and names of provinces in new state restructuring failed to make any headway as parties continue to remain sharply divided over “single ethnic identity” based provinces in the new state restructuring.

A day long meeting held on Monday to settle the issue ended inconclusively after Nepali Congress and CPN-UML rejected a joint proposal of the Maoist and UDMF for 10 provinces with single ethnic identity. Both NC and UML are opposed to the idea of provinces with ´single ethnic identity´.

The Maoists and the UDMF have threatened to go for voting in the Constituent Assembly starting Tuesday if there was no agreement on the issue of federalism in view of the fast approaching constitutional deadline of May 27 to promulgate a new statute. “There is no alternative but to go for voting from tomorrow [Tuesday]. But we will continue negotiations to arrive at consensus on the contentious issue”,” said Maoist Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha after the meeting.

Three major parties and the UDMF are scheduled to sit again for talks Tuesday before the parliament begins at 3 pm.

During the meeting, both NC and the UML leaders accused the Maoists of backtracking from the previous agreement on 11-province federal model and inciting ethnic groups to take to the streets to bring a constitution of their ´interests´.

“The Maoists have attempted to put pressure on the parties by inciting lawmakers to breach the party whip. We are worried that the Maoists are conspiring to bring a constitution that is against the interests of majority of people,” said UML Vice Chairman Bam Dev Gautam.

Gautam accused the Maoists of repeatedly changing its stance on federalism over the past two weeks. Though there was agreement among parties to go for 11-province federal model with a provision to give provincial assembly the authority to choose their names, the Maoist later said that it was not acceptable to them,” he said.

As the differences continued to persist among parties on number and names of provinces, NC and UML had proposed to bring a draft constitution within May 27 with a provision to settle the issue of federalism by the transformed parliament on the recommendation of federal commission.

“We proposed to go ahead with the promulgation of new constitution with a provision to settle the issues of boundary and names by transformed parliament after May 27. But the Maoists did not accept to the proposal,” said NC Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel.

The Maoist and UDMF, however, alleged the NC and UML´s proposal was aimed at bringing new constitution without federalism. “Arguing there wasn´t adequate time to settle issues, both the NC and UML have been conspiring to bring a new constitution without federalism,” alleged Madheshi People´s Rights Forum-Republican Acting Chairman Raj Kishor Yadav.

Yadav said the proposal was not acceptable to the UDMF and Maoists. “We will go for voting starting Tuesday. The CA members from other parties will vote in favor of the people by breaching their party whips to bring the new constitution,” he said.

Paudel said that they won´t be able to bring the new constitution if they chose to vote on contentious issues in the CA as they are just left with six days.

“If we choose to go for voting process the CA is likely to be dissolved. Neither there will be federalism, nor democracy and republican set up once the CA term expires without promulgating a new constitution. This has put us in a difficult situation,” he said.KOSH RAJ KOIRALA,republica
KATHMANDU: In a dramatic turnaround, the Unified CPN-Maoist today proposed 10 pradeshes to be carved out on single ethnic-based identity, as backed by agitating ethnic groups and United Democratic Madhesi Front, only to rile the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

The development at the meeting of the four political forces — UCPN-M, NC, UML and UDMF — today led negotiations to an impasse, raising fears that there will be no constitution by May 27.

Leaders of all the four political forces told the media that with talks ending in a deadlock, a new constitution by the stipulated time was in a state of uncertainty. The leaders even went on to blame each other’s party.

NC and UML leaders accused the Maoist party of contriving a plot and said they were using two-pronged strategy — using ‘pressure and influence tactics’ to promulgate the constitution or continue to remain in power, if the tactics failed. “They are creating pressure from the streets by ‘inciting’ different ethnic groups. In addition, the Maoist prime minister is inducting ministers from even those parties that have only one representative in the Constituent Assembly in a bid to influence the number in the Constituent Assembly,” said a UML leader. “If there is no constitution, they want to remain in power.”

But Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Republic leader Raj Kishore Yadav stood in defence and blamed NC and UML. “They want federalism without names and identity, which is unacceptable to us,” they said. Even as they said a new constitution was almost uncertain, Maoist and UDMF leaders, however, kept on clutching at straws, saying ‘the voting process will settle the disputed issues’.

Leaders but reiterated that attempts to forge consensus will continue.

“Will there be a constitution by May 27 — through consensus or voting process? The question is moot. But we believe we will be able to promulgate the constitution by settling all issues through voting,” said Shrestha.

NC leader Ramchandra Paudel did not mince any words. “It is difficult to promulgate the constitution by settling the disputed issues through voting within the stipulated time,” said Paudel. “The Maoist party is the main stumbling block to consensus, as it has backtracked from past agreements time and again. The situation is complicated.”

“There’s no consensus yet,” said UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal who had questions aplenty: “When will there be consensus? When will we prepare the draft of the new constitution? When will we promulgate it?” Nepal added that everything was in a sate of limbo.

According to Paudel, Dahal told the four-party meeting that he could not convince UDMF and ethnic groups on 11-pradesh model on which the parties had reached an agreement on May 15.PRAKASH ACHARYA,THT

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