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Madhesi leaders float 3 proposals to end row

Deadlock over boundary
Registration of a constitution amendment bill has but complicated politics, and with protests erupting in different parts of the country and the Madhes-based parties refusing to take ownership of the bill in existing form, the government seems to be in a tight spot. 
Amid this, top leaders of the Madhes-based forces in the past few days are learnt to have floated three proposals before the governing parties to end the boundary row.
According to leaders privy to the meetings between the Madhes-based forces and the governing parties, Madhesi leaders “categorically” advised Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal either to set up a federal commission and entirely revise the federal boundaries or scrap the existing seven-Province model. 
According to the leaders, a new constitution amendment proposal can be drafted after that to ensure elections. The second proposal floated by the Madhesi leaders is adhering to the report prepared by the State Restructuring Commission. 
The third proposal calls for adjusting the “disputed” districts of Provinces 2 and 5.
The current constitution amendment bill that the government has registered envisions splitting Province 5 but does not mentiond about five “disputed” districts—Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari in the East and Kailali and Kanchanpur in the West. The plan to split Province 5 has sparked protests, with thousands of people descending on central Butwal on Friday. 
A top leader from a party in the government said that “the Madhesi leaders have clearly told us that there should be two provinces in Tarai/ Madhes where western and southern parts of Morang and Sunsari can be incorporated into Province 2 and eastern part of Kailai district can be incorporated into Province 5.” 
“They have proposed setting up a federal commission and giving it three to six months to come up with a report, and based on that report, a new constitution amendment bill can be drafted so as to ensure elections,” the leader said. Talking to reporters on Friday, Tarai Madhesh Loktantrik Party (TMLP) Chairman Mahantha Thakur said that the row over federal boundaries can be resolved by following the recommendations of the State Restructuring Commission. 
The commission had come up with a report suggesting two provinces along the plains with Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari being part of Province 2 and Kailai and Kanchanpur of Province 5.
“The whole Nawalparasi district should be incorporated in one province,” he said. “But, if Nawalparasi can be split, why not Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali or Kanchanpur for that matter?” 
Three major parties had earlier rejected the State Restructuring Commission’s report, saying that two provinces along the plains “was not possible”.
“We are still holding discussions with the Madhes-based parties to end the boundary row,” said senior Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha. He, however, insisted that declaring the dates of local level elections is the “best option available right now”. “If consensus cannot be forged on the amendment bill, the government should declare the elections.” 
Suggestions
- Set up a federal commission and entirely revise the federal boundaries, or scrap the existing seven-province model
- Adhere to the report prepared by the State Restructuring Commission
- Adjust  ‘disputed’ districts of Provinces 2 and 5

Anil Giri
Published: 03-12-2016

The Kathmandu Post

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