Nepal constitutional amendments 'incomplete': Madhesis

The amendments, that addresses the two key demands of the Madhesis who are largely of Indian-origin, were endorsed with a two-thirds majority yesterday.

Kathmandu: Nepal's agitating Madhesis on Sunday rejected as "incomplete" the constitutional amendments passed by Parliament for failing to address their concerns over redrawing borders, dimming hopes of an early end to the political crisis and blockade of trade points with India.

"Though the constitution amendment bill endorsed by the Parliament yesterday was positive to some extent, it does not address the demands raised by the agitating Madhesi parties in their entirety," said Rameshwor Raya Yadav, senior Madhesi leader and senior vice-president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic.

The provisions included in the amendment such as proportionate representation and inclusiveness, and allocation of Parliament seats on the basis of population were positive, he said, adding it would have been better if the agitating parties were taken into confidence before endorsing the two amendment bills.

The amendments, that addresses the two key demands of the Madhesis who are largely of Indian-origin, were endorsed with a two-thirds majority yesterday.

The lawmakers of the agitating parties had boycotted the voting, saying the amendments were "incomplete", as they fell short of addressing their concerns, including redrawing of federal boundaries.

Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal - one of the constituents of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, said that the proposal by Nepali Congress leaders Minendra Rijal and Farmullah Mansoor was progressive than the original bill that was filed in Parliament on December 15.

As many as 24 proposals were filed by more than 100 lawmakers of different parties, seeking to amend the bill, which was endorsed in the House after incorporating the proposal registered by Rijal and Mansoor.

The agitating Madhes-based parties said the revision proposal, in line with which the Constitution Amendment Bill was endorsed, was "incomplete" despite being progressive, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Morcha leaders said that they would make further comments after thoroughly "studying the text".

"But it will be too early to make any comment, as we are yet to go through the amendment proposal," Shrestha said, adding that Morcha's protests would continue unless "there is an agreement on redrawing federal boundaries".

The killing of three persons in Rangeli Municipality of Morang district few days ago during police firing was a tragic incident which could have been avoided if the government tried to build an atmosphere of consensus, Yadav pointed out.

Laxman Lal Karna, vice president of Sadbhawana Party, said that the amendment proposal does little to address the key demands of the agitating Madhesi groups.

"We have not been consulted with, while endorsing the bills," he pointed out.

"The amendment bill does not address the key demand of re-demarcation of the provincial boundary," he added.

Karna said, the official view of the United Democratic Madhesi Front - the four-party alliance - is yet to sit for discussion to make public their official opinion regarding the amendment bill, he said.

Nepal has suffered a lot economically, due to the five-month-long agitation and border blockade, and it is very urgent to resolve the crisis for which India's help is essential, said Ramrijhan Yadav, senior Madhesi leader and central member of newly formed Naya Shakti Nepal.

Madhesi people are being neglected and deprived of their genuine rights and representation and as we have not been able to resolve this issue by ourselves, we should seek India's help in resolving the issue, he advised.

India should take initiative in resolve the problem and ending the hardship facing the people due to the months long border blockade, he pointed out.

Madhesis, who are inhabitants of the Terai region, are opposed to the new Constitution that divides their ancestral homeland under the seven-province structure and have led an ongoing blockade of key border trade points with India.

The agitating community that shares strong cultural and family bonds with India is demanding demarcation of provinces, fixing of electoral constituencies on the basis of population and proportional representation, and have launched a protest for months that has claimed at least 55 lives.