Madhes parties snub meeting called by Dahal

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KATHMANDU, APR 11 – In a clear indication of strained relations, the Madhes-based parties on Friday gave a pass to a meeting of the 30-party opposition alliance called by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

After the Madhes-based and Janajati parties refused to attend it, Dahal cancelled the meeting which was supposed to take a decision on the next round of street agitation.

Should there be no agreement between the ruling and opposition parties by Monday, the date when the Constituent Assembly is supposed to start the majority process to decide the disputed issues of constitution writing, the agitating parties are expected to announce their third phase of protests.

The regional parties and the Federal Socialist Party-Nepal led by Ashok Rai are unhappy about Dahal’s move early this week to shorten the three-day banda and enforce it for only a day.

The Madhes-based parties have demanded that Dahal should explain why he called off the strike abruptly. The third-phase protest of the opposition alliance thus faces uncertainty. The Tarai parties are preparing to launch a separate movement concentrating on the plains by reviving their alliance called the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha stating that they “cannot trust the Maoists anymore”.

Madhesi parties suspect Dahal to have reached a deal secretly with the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. “Dahal has betrayed the cadres of Madhesi, Muslim and other margnalised communities,” said Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav. He added that they would not attend any meeting call by Dahal until they get a satisfactory clarification from him. He said that they could forge another alliance if Dahal fails to lead it effectively. The reading of the Madhes-based parties is that the UCPN (Maoist) is also a “Pahadi party like the NC and the UML and could betray Madhes anytime”.

MJF-Loktantrik Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, however, reached Singha Durbar on Friday for the meeting. The Maoist party, however, has said there is no any secret deal with the ruling parties.

Maoist leaders say they withdrew the strike following public sentiment and the ruling parties’ commitment to draft the new constitution on the basis of consensus. The main reason, according to leaders, is the postponement of the CA meeting by a week to provide more time for consensus.

Though the ruling parties’ approach “has changed” after the withdrawal of the strike, Maoist leaders say there is no solid foundation for an agreement on the contentious issues of the new constitution. “There is not yet a clear picture of consensus among the parties,” said Maoist leader Agni Sapkota.

Though they were in the same alliance, Maoist and Madhes-based parties are always suspicious of each other. The Maoists fear that the Madhes-based parties could join the government by betraying them anytime while the Madhesis say the UCPN (Maoist) could join hands with the ruling parties abandoning the agenda of the Madhes.