Nepal's Madhesi Front has refused to back the Constitution amendment bill, saying it was not acceptable in its current discriminatory form, in a blow to Prime Minister Prachanda's efforts to achieve reconciliation with groups agitating over the new statute.
The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal (FSF-N) stated that they cannot accept the Constitution amendment bill which has been registered in Parliament by Nepal's government despite opposition from CPN-UML.
"We cannot accept the Constitution amendment bill, which was unilaterally registered in the Parliament by the government because the bill does not address the issues raised by Madhesis, Janajatis and deprived communities," the UDMF said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement was jointly issued by UDMF leaders, including Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Chair Upendra Yadav, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chair Mahantha Thakur and Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party-Nepal Chair Mahendra Prasad Yadav.
"The three major parties want to continue to discriminate against Janajatis, Madhesis and other deprived communities," said FSF-N Chair Yadav. He stated that the UDMF was primarily concerned about the struggle and would think about elections only in future.
Yadav, earlier issued a statement, saying that the government committed a blunder by registering a Constitution amendment bill that did not address the demands of indigenous nationalities, Tharus, Khas, Muslims, women, Dalits and Madhesi movement.
Yadav said the provincial autonomy and 10-province model were still being treated as disputed issues and the concerns over five Tarai districts Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur were yet to be addressed.
He argued that the Constitution amendment bill had made no mention of proportional representation on the basis of the population of ethnic groups and recognition of national identity. "The Federal Alliance has been demanding representation based on population. If the Constitution is amended as per the bill's proposal, Madhesis would never be in majority in the Upper House," Yadav said.
Other issues of concern cited by him were recognition of all mother tongues and the issue naturalised citizenship. The agitating forces demand that women who acquire naturalised citizenship on the basis of matrimony should be treated as citizens by descent but the bill implied that these women would never hold top Constitutional posts.
Federal Alliance is a grouping of Madhesi parties and ethnic groups that have been demanding more rights and representation for the marginalised people. The bill, registered at the Parliament Secretariat after the Council of Ministers passed its draft on Tuesday, proposes to address three other key issues citizenship, representation in the Upper House and recognition of languages spoken in various parts of the country.