KATHMANDU, May 18: While flatly rejecting the 11-province federal model, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has reiterated that any model other than the ones proposed by Constituent Assembly (CA)’s thematic committee or State Restructuring Commission (SRC) would be unacceptable to them.
During meetings with the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML on Thursday, UDMF leaders warned of taking to streets if the major parties did not agree on either the 14-province federal model proposed by the CA’s thematic committee on state restructuring or the 10-province model proposed by SRC.
“Both Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and the prime minister have assured us that the 11-province model would be withdrawn. We will either have a federal model proposed by the CA thematic committee or the one proposed by the commission,” Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato told media persons after the meeting held at Special Committee secretariat in New Baneshwor in the evening.
Though the Maoists under pressure from the Mohan Baidya faction agreed to withdraw the proposal, NC and UML are averse to the idea of withdrawing the proposal. “We are scheduled to hold a meeting Friday morning to settle the issue,” Mahato said.
Asked about the preference of UDMF, Mahato said his party prefers the 10-province federal mode“. “I hope we will be able to reach an agreement on the 10-province mod”l,” he added.
Both 10-province and 14-province federal models propose to have two provinces comprising Tarai districts as against five provinces proposed in the 11-province model agreed between the three major parties on Tuesday. The UDMF has long been pressing for a maximum of two provinces in the Tarai districts.
Besides the number of provinces in Tarai districts, Madhesi and non-Madhesi parties including the Maoists are at odds over whether to keep Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts of eastern Nepal in a separate province or in the proposed Madhes provinces.
During the talks held on Thursday evening, Maoist Vice chairman Narayankaji Shrestha had asked if conspiracy was being hatched to weaken the Maoist party and ultimately derail the constitution drafting process. Shrestha had also asked the UDMF leaders as to why they did not raise the issue ‘strongly’ when the three parties reached the agreement.
Sources said Maoists and other parties had floated the 11-province federal model before the agreement on Tuesday. The three major parties had finally struck the deal after UMDF leaders while expressing reservation over the deal had publicly said that they wouldn’t be an ‘obstacle’ to drafting the new constitution.
During the meeting held at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar earlier in the morning, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had asked the UDMF leaders not to take any decision to quit the government and that he would withdraw the proposal after holding consultations with NC and UML. He also said that the alliance between the Maoists and UDMF was very important to push for progressive agendas in the new constitution.
Maoist Chairman Dahal and the prime minister had held separate meetings with the top leaders of NC and UML at the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar.
Though the top leaders of three major parties sat again for talks with the UDMF leaders at the prime minister’s office in Singha Durbar in the afternoon, the meeting was cut short as the leaders had to attend the meeting of legislature-parliament. Later in the evening, the leaders sat again for talks at the Special Committee secretariat in New Baneshwar to address the Madhes-based parties concerns, mainly the number of provinces in the federal map of the country.by KOSH RAJ KOIRALA from republica