Madhesi Parties announce fresh protest from Feb 5

MadhesI Parties

KATHMANDU, Jan 30: Madhesi parties on Sunday said they will hold fresh protests in Nepal’s southern Terai region next week to exert pressure on the Prachanda government to address their demands through an amendment to the new Constitution.

The Joint Democratic Madhesi Front (JDMF), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, decided to stage mass protests at the headquarters of Terai districts on February 5, demanding the implementation of a ‘three-point’ agreement it had signed on August 3 the day Prachanda took over as prime minister.

As per the agreement, the Front had extended support to the CPN Maoist Centre-Nepali Congress alliance to elect Prachanda as the prime minister. In return, Prachanda promised to address the Front’s demands through an amendment to the Constitution.

The major demands of the Madhesis include re-drawing of the provincial boundary and the citizenship issue.

But a Constitution amendment bill, which was tabled in Parliament on January 8, is currently in a state of limbo, as the main opposition CPN-ML has opposed it and the Madhes-based parties themselves have expressed dissatisfaction over the content and have demanded a revision.

The Madhesi parties say they would not let the polls to Parliament and local bodies take place before the Constitution is amended to address their demands.

The government’s silence on the Constitution amendment bill has also irked the Front.

The governing Maoist Centre and the Nepali Congress had reached an agreement with the Front to form a taskforce to revise the amendment proposal.

The taskforce held discussions on Thursday, but only to fail to find a point of compromise. The next meeting of the taskforce has been scheduled for Tuesday.

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, had launched a six-month-long agitation during KP Sharma Oli’s premiership, from September 2015 to February last year, in which more than 50 people were killed.

The agitation had also crippled the landlocked country’s economy as supplies from India were blocked.PTI