KOSH RAJ KOIRALA/KIRAN PUN
KATHMANDU, Aug 23 : Major political parties represented in the High Level Political Committee (HLPC) and the agitating alliance of various 33 parties led by CPN-Maoist have reached an agreement in principle to hold a roundtable political conference as demanded by the agitating alliance.
A fresh round of talks held between HLPC and agitating alliance at New Baneshwar on Thursday concluded with both the sides agreeing to hold a roundtable political conference to pave the way for Mohan Baidya-led alliance to join the election process.
Talking to media persons after the talks, CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya said their talks with HLPC ended on a positive note. “We have reached an agreement in principle to hold a roundtable conference to forge a broader political consensus,” he said.
Baidya said all the parties in HLPC and constituent parties of his alliance will do necessary homework and come up with issues to be discussed and the process for holding the proposed roundtable within next two days.
Asked if there had been any agreement to defer November 19 polls, Baidya said all the contentious issues, including the election date, would be decided by the roundtable conference. “The roundtable conference will take a decision on all the contentious issues, including the new date for CA election,” CPN (Unified) leader Pari Thapa told Republica.
While the major parties represented in HLPC have chosen to call the meeting an “all-party” meeting, the agitating alliance has termed it an all party “round table conference”. “We agreed to go for an all-party meeting on condition that polls would be held on the scheduled date of November 19,” said NC leader Arjun Narasingh KC.
At the outset of the negotiations between HLPC and the agitating alliance on Thursday morning, HLPC coordinator Sushil Koirala had asked Baidya-led alliance to join the election process as failure to hold the election could lead the country toward a disaster. Koirala also pointed out the need for holding the election on the scheduled date.
On the occasion, Baidya had said that they were not against the election and that they were ready to participate in the polls if the roundtable takes such a decision. “Date is a technical issue. We are in favor of national consensus and national consensus can be forged only through a roundtable conference,” General Secretary of Revolutionary Communist Party Mani Thapa quoted Baidya as saying.
CPN-UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal had proposed finding a middle path to resolve the political differences between the two sides. “Let us give up our rigid stances. Having heard Baidya ji´s demands, I am fully convinced that they will join the election process,” Thapa quoted Nepal as saying.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal then proposed that they should be ready to hold a round table conference while CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and UCPN (Maoist) leader Baburam Bhattarai seconded him immediately.
As there was consensus among all the parties in HLPC on holding a roundtable conference, HLPC had held its separate meeting to take a formal decision to this effect. The meeting between the two sides that reconvened after the HLPC meeting had concluded with an agreement in principle to hold a roundtable.
Though the parties represented in HLPC are yet to reach consensus as to who would participate in the proposed roundtable, Baidya-led agitating alliance has proposed to include all the political parties represented in the erstwhile CA, agitating parties and various stakeholders such as Dalits, Madhesis, women, Tharuhat with whom the government had earlier reached agreements.
Genesis of roundtable
The concept of roundtable is not new to the Maoists. Then CPN (Maoist) during the insurgency had first put forth the demand for a roundtable and CA as its major demands during negotiations with the government.
The demand was revived by the CPN-Maoist after its split from the mother party. While arguing that the new CA may also be unable to draft a new statute, the Mohan Baidya-led Maoist proposed holding a roundtable to decide whether to draft the new statute through a new CA or a Commission comprising experts and the representatives of various political parties.
The Baidya-led alliance had organized a roundtable after its split in its bid to find a way out to the current political impasse.
Talks between HLPC and FSP ´positive´
A fresh round of negotiations held between HLPC and the agitating Federal Socialist Party (FSP) on Thursday evening ended on a positive note.
FSP Chairman Ashok Rai told Republica that their talks with HLPC is heading in a positive direction. “Since HLPC has already decided to hold a roundtable, we will put forth our remaining issues in the conference,” he said.
FSP has demanded that the number of CA seats be kept intact as against the agreement reached with the Upendra Yadav-led Federal Democratic Front to limit the number of seats to 585 to help ensure better representation of marginalized groups in the new CA.