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Posted On : 11 Aug, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Kathmandu 
Madhesi parties inching closer to taking part in local polls
Nepal's agitating Madhesi parties today indicated that they might take part in the third phase of the local-level polls next month, saying the government should first create a conducive atmosphere.

Leaders of the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), a key Madhesi party, today met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Maoist chief Prachanda and discussed the issues relating to the demands put forth by the Madhesis.

"We were wishing to take part in the elections but the government should first create a conducive atmosphere for the same," a senior Madhesi leader said.

The ruling alliance, Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre, have assured that they would endorse the Constitution amendment bill tabled in the Parliament, senior RJPN leader Rajendra Mahato told PTI.

"We were positive in participating in the local-level elections but the formal decision to this effect will be taken only after the Constitution amendment bill is endorsed by the Parliament," he said, adding that the talks were moving towards positive direction and they were hopeful that their demands will be addressed.

Senior leader of Nepali Congress Ramchandra Poudyal said that after today's talks, the Madhesi parties were close to taking part in the elections.

"An understanding was reached to table the Constitution amendment bill by Tuesday and I am hopeful that the Madhesi parties would take part in the third phase of elections," Poudyal said.

Yesterday, Madhesi leaders had met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"She (Swaraj) however, did not insist upon us what should we do and what we should not. The decision to take part or not to take part in the election entirely depends on us," Mahato said.

The RJPN boycotted the first and second phase of local- level elections, as they expressed reservation to taking part in the polls without fulfilling their demands.

The local-level polls are being held in Nepal for the first time in almost two decades. Millions of Nepalese have voted in the first two phases of the polls as the Himalayan nation takes a crucial step towards cementing democracy amid political turmoil.

Nepal has been witnessing political instability. Some Madhes-centric parties opposed the elections on the ground that the new Constitution be amended to accommodate their views: more representation in the Parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year against the implementation of the new Constitution which they felt marginalised the community.