Differences over the federal boundaries continue to be the sticking point even as the government and Madhesi parties on Thursday inched closer to sorting most other outstanding disputes surrounding the new constitution.
During talks held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both the sides remained adamant on their positions on the delineation of states, which is at the heart of the contention. The government side agreed “in principle” to amend the new constitution in order to address the Madhesi parties’ demands for inclusive and proportional representation in all the state bodies and delimitation of electoral constituencies based on population, among others. It has also agreed to address “legitimate grievances” over the federal set-up on the basis of the recommendations of a commission to be formed later. But it has refused to sign any agreement specifying the details of such changes. Madhesi leaders, however, stressed that a categorical deal on federalism was necessary to resolve the current dispute. “A deal without a detailed agreement on the federal structure is meaningless even if the government fulfils all other demands. Such a pact is not enough to end this protest,” said Hridayesh Tripathi, vice-chairman of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party. He stressed that the federal map had been a prestige issue for them. The government has so far refused to discuss the federal agenda. Members of the government talks team said they would soon come up with a “clear cut” decision on the matter.