A delegation of Madhesi leaders registered a new amendment at the Parliament secretariat in Kathmandu on Monday evening. The move has revived the demand for special measures for the people of Nepal’s plains as the mandatory public consultation begins over the Second Constitution Amendment to guarantee constitutional status to the updated map of the country that includes Indian territory.
“We have registered an amendment on Monday evening and will table it in the current budget session of Parliament. The government has not kept its previous promises and that is why we are reviving the agenda of equal opportunity and representation for people of Madhes in the government of Nepal”, said Rajendra Mahato of the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP), the largest Madhesi formation of Nepal.
The amendment is being seen as a reiteration of the pending demands from the community which, in 2015-16, agitated for special political, economic and social safeguards.
Parliament tabled the Second Constitution Amendment on Sunday to guarantee legal status to the new map, which is now open for public consultation for a period of approximately a month. That apart as per rules, other political parties can suggest changes in the amendment in the following week.
No NCP support
Nepali Congress (NC) leader and former Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay said the Madhesi move to register the amendment is unlikely to go further as it may not get the support of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). “Without the support of the NCP, no amendment can go through even if NC and smaller parties decide to back the Madhesi amendment”, he noted.
The Madhesis have not yet taken a stand on the amendment regarding the map as they have maintained that they would prefer a “package of amendments” rather than an agenda with the single issue of clearance of the map.
The Madhesi position cannot alter the two-thirds majority that the government of Prime Minister Oli has gathered with the support received from the chief opposition Nepali Congress. The amendment to the map is likely to be fast-tracked in the coming week.
Given the emotive nature of the new map, which claims India’s territory and has received widespread support from among people, the Madhesi reluctance to welcome the map has been criticised in social media. The rift between the Madhesis and the rest of Kathmandu’s ruling elite is also being seen as a political opportunity for the former.
Mr. Mahto said that they are considering the launch of a unified front this week to revive the Madhes issue.