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Parties retreating from 11-state model

KATHMANDU: The May 15 understanding between lead political parties to restructure the nation in 11-states without names and borders has started crumbling due to intense pressure from janajatis and madheshi political and community groups.

Signature campaign of the janjati and madheshi lawmakers representing various political parties, has forced the lead political parties to review their agreement.

Maoist Chairman Prachanda became the first to claim that the ‘relevance’ of the agreement has ‘ended’. He made this announcement while accepting a memorandum from a group of lawmakers representing Congress, UML, Madheshi parties and his own party.

The memorandum signed by these lawmakers has warned that they would jointly cross the floor and vote against the 11-state model, if the parties did not review the agreement. Accepting the memorandum, Prachanda said, “With host of disagreements raised, the relevance of the agreement has ended. Now there is no alternative other than to make a fresh start for consensus.”

Terming the recent agreement as ‘informal’, Prachanda stressed on the need to strike a new agreement. He argued that the agreement was yet to be endorsed by the Dispute Resolution Sub-Committee and the Constitutional Committee and thereby was solely an agreement reached between the three parties. “The 11-state model was agreed for discussions, official understanding on the issue is yet to be made and endorsed.”

However, Congress and UML both retorted at Prachanda for ‘terminating the relevancy of the agreement’. While accepting that there was no way other than to draft the constitution in consensus, they claimed that stating the relevancy of the agreement has ended, was not cognizant with the consensus spirit.

“We don’t know what others say in the public,” UML senior leader Madhav Nepal said adding, “officially we have been not informed about the irrelevancy of the agreement.”

Congress Vice President, Ram Chandra Paudel said that consensus can never be irrelevant and informed that they “have centered on discussions from a new dimension.”

Both, Congress and UML, have informed that they have initiated discussions with stakeholders considering the importance of consensus in promulgating the new constitution.

“By now, even a kid knows that the constitution cannot be promulgated without consensus. Now, the constitution will be promulgated through consensus,” UML Chair Jhalnath Khanal while exiting House meeting on Saturday evening.

Khanal conceded that the parties were mulling to review the 11-state model as the said agreement has flared protests across the nation.

However, Khanal denied that the new federal model will be not the 10 or 14 state model as proposed by Madheshis, Adivashis and Janajatis.

Paudel also conceded that the discussions were afoot on reviewing the 11-state proposal and claimed “consensus could be reached on five-state model also,” while refraining to hint at the number of states that the parties were mulling in their recent discussions.

Aadibashi, Janajati, Madheshi lawmakers and the lawmakers affiliated to the hardliner faction of the Maoists have been demanding that the state be restructured either on the basis of model proposed by the State Restructuring Committee of the CA or on the basis of the recommendations made by the High Level Commission on State Restructuring. The Committee has proposed 14 and the Commission has proposed 10-state model in their respective reports.

Lead political parties succumbed to intense pressure after their own lawmakers joined the signature campaign initiated by the Broader Madheshi Front against the 11-state federal model agreement. Presently, parties are mulling on to take stakeholders into confidence before reaching another agreement on the issue, which is getting complicated by the day.

“We have agreed to push for consensus on a federal model after assessing the spirit of all stakeholders,” Paudel said while exiting the four party meeting held on Saturday.

Though Samyukta Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha is also part of the May 15 understanding, its lawmakers have also signed against the 11-state federal model.

By Saturday evening 318 lawmakers from the Moaist, Congress, UML, Madhesh based and other fringe parties, signed the letter that denounced the 11-state model.

From the Maoists, General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, Chief Whip Dev Gurung, leader Suresh Ale Magar, Barsha Man Pun, Hit Man Shakya, Jhakku Subedi, Jai Puri Gharti, among other leaders have signed the letter.

Similarly from Congress, Jeep Chiring Lama Sherpa, Indra Bahadur Gurung, Pramila Rai, Tulashi Subba, Ram Krishna Chitrakar among other lawmakers have signed the letter.
From UML also Madheshi and Janajati lawmakers have agreed to go against party’s decision. UML lawmaker Prithvi Subba Gurung, Pasang Sherpa, Lalmani Chaudhari, Ram Chandra Jha, Usha Kala Rai, Kiran Gurung, Gopal Thakur, Rijvaan Ansari among other lawmakers signed the letter.

From JDMF all senior leaders of all parties affiliated with it have signed the letter. Though JDMF coordinator Bijay Kumar Gachhadar was a witness of the May 15 agreement, he too has signed the letter that has protested it.

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