A week after the government announced the date of local elections, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday went directly to the people of the plains and asked them to participate in polls despite opposition from Madhesi leaders.
“This election is an opportunity for people in Madhes to express their grievances through ballot paper,” Dahal said. “I am confident that the people in the Madhes will take part in this historic process.”
Dahal used his address televised live to extol his own accomplishments, taking credit for ending load-shedding and speeding infrastructure projects like the Kathmandu-Tarai fast track road.
But he spent most of his 15-minute address trying to persuade the Madhesi parties and people to accept the Constitution and participate in elections.
“No other community needed this constitution more than the Madhesi people, and I can understand their grievances as I was elected from the Madhes,” he said.
Dahal said he was himself not fully satisfied with the content of the constitution but compromised on it because the forces that wanted to undermine the gains of the 2006 Democracy Movement were conspiring against it. He said these forces are still trying to undermine federalism, secularism and principles of inclusion by foiling the constitution and eventually dividing the country.
“I have a question to Madhesi people: will you want these forces to succeed in undermining our achievements and dividing the country?” he asked rhetorically.
Hours before his address, Dahal had held a meeting with Madhesi parties at Baluwatar, and tried to convince them to agree to local polls by postponing the constitution amendment bill. He said it was going to be difficult to secure a two-thirds majority to pass the bill, and the ruling coalition was ready to move it forward only if the Madhesi parties agreed to accept the outcome of the vote in Parliament on the amendment.
The Tarai-centirc parties are still against participating in local elections without amending the constitution first. However, they have kept the door open by saying they will negotiate with the ruling coalition. Dahal is now trying to appease Madhesi parties by creating more local government bodies in Province 2.
In Birganj, Umesh Sah Kanu turned on the tv in his tea shop on Tuesday evening as Dahal began his speech, and said the prime minister should agree on the amendment before announcing elections.
But he said it would not be wise for Madhesi parties call for more street protests. “Madhesi parties must press for the amendment. But if they do not succeed, they must do it by themselves by gaining more power from elections,” he said, sipping milk tea from a little plastic cup.
Jiyalal Sah in BirganjGo back to previous page