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Madhesis on board  

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

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Dahal shakes hands with Deuba after filing his candidacy for the post of Prime Minister on Tuesday. Photo: RSS

CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has persuaded Madhesi parties to back the new government, which he is most likely to lead.

Before registering his candidacy on Tuesday to be the new Prime Minister in Parliament, Dahal struck a three-point agreement with Madhesi parties.

As per the deal, Madhesi parties will vote for Dahal in the House on Wednesday. And the new government – led by Dahal with support from the Nepali Congress (NC) – will declare all those killed during last year’s Madhes uprising as ‘martyrs’ and provide compensation for the injured.

The deal would also require the Maoists and the NC to push for constitutional amendments to address the 11-point demands of the Madhesi Front. Madhesi parties will not join the government immediately, but will be part of it ‘once the deal is implemented’.

The NC-Maoist coalition would not have required support from the Madhesi parties to form a new government. But they needed to bring them on board to justify why they toppled the UML government led by Prime Minister KP Oli.

Oli had become Prime Minister last year amidst an indefinite strike in the Tarai by Madhesi parties, which had rejected the constitution pushed through by the Big Three parties. And he did not show concern for the grievances of the Madhesi parties.

One of the reasons Dahal presented when he quit the ruling alliance was that Oli was not liberal enough to address the demands of Madhesi, Janajatis and other minority groups. New Delhi, which is widely believed to have had a role in the change of government, also wants the new ruling coalition between Dahal and Deuba to bring Madhesis on board.

After the end of the Indian blockade early this year, Madhesi parties restricted their agitation to a relay hunger strike in Kathmandu, but without little success in mounting pressure on the Big Three to rewrite the Charter. They saw the regime change as an opportunity to end their prolonged agitation.

With the UML sidelined to the opposition bench, however, constitutional amendment appears impossible. On Tuesday, the UML decided not to field a candidate for Prime Minister, but will vote against Dahal and will obstruct the Parliament from amending the constitution.


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