KATHMANDU: Concerned about the turmoil in the Terai region bordering India over the new Constitution, Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav today asked Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to open talks with the agitating minority parties who are sticking to their demand for amendment of the new statute.
At a meeting here, Koirala told Yadav that talks have already started with the agitating Madhesi parties including with Chairman of Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Mahanta Thakur.
Madhesis are Indian-origin people living on the foothills of Nepal's Terai region.
According to Rajendra Dahal, the president's press advisor, Koirala also informed Yadav that discussions would be held with Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic Chairman, Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar.
Gachchhadar said that he has asked the top leaders of the three major parties to come up with a solid proposal for talks in order to resolve the crisis amid violent protests in the
Terai region over the new Constitution that have killed over 40 people so far.
After holding a meeting with Premier and Nepali Congress President Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman K P Sharma Oli and UCPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda this afternoon, Gachhadar said that the three parties in Federal Democratic Front (FDF), which he leads, would sit for the talks if the major parties came up with a solid proposal and were ready for the amendment of the Constitution.
FDF constituents would accept the Constitution, which was promulgated on September 20, if the new charter was amended by addressing the concerns of the Madhesi parties, Gachhadar was quoted as saying by the Himalayan Times.
He maintained that the current unrest arose because the major parties did not pay heed to the concerns raised by the Madhesis, Tharus and Janajati communities and bulldozed their way through the promulgation of the Constitution.
He said the purported federal model with seven provinces was the bone of contention and stated that it should be rectified immediately.
Gachhadar said the top three leaders have told him they would hold talks soon and find a way out before Koirala leaves for New York to take part in the UN General Assembly.
While many in Nepal have hailed Sunday's adoption of the new constitution after a seven-year effort, Madhesis say their concerns that the seven newly-created provinces with borders cutting through their ethnic homelands were ignored.
Some groups have also demanded bigger territory and more seats for ethnic minorities in parliament and others want Nepal to remain a Hindu state, rather than secular, as was decided on Sunday.
Concerned over the violence in the Terai region, India had called its envoy to Nepal, Ranjit Rae, to New Delhi for consultations yesterday where he briefed the government on the latest situation in the neighbouring country after it adopted its new fully secular and democratic Constitution.
Before leaving for India, Rae had spoken to Nepal's prime minister to convey New Delhi's concerns over the violent situation in several parts of the country bordering India.
India has also told Nepal that issues on which there are differences should be "resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and institutionalised in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance".
The Ministry of External Affairs had also issued a statement saying, "We are deeply concerned over the incidents of violence resulting in death and injury in regions of Nepal bordering India".
"We had repeatedly cautioned the political leadership of Nepal to take urgent steps to defuse the tension in these regions. This, if done in a timely manner, could have avoided these serious developments," it said expressed hope that initiatives will be taken by Nepal's leadership to effectively and credibly address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation.
Noting that Indian freight companies and transporters have also voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security concerns, due to the prevailing unrest, the ministry said that "We have consistently argued that all sections of Nepal must reach a consensus on the political challenges confronting them".
"The issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force," it said.
Concerned over the violence, India had also sent Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to Nepal last week for consultations with the country's top leadership ahead of promulgation of the new Constitution.