Although there are still many uncertainties at the surface, the latest talks among the top leaders have raised certain hopes for a political settlement.
Leaders of the big three political parties have informally agreed to accept the 10-points demand and are said to be very close to making a breakthrough on the issue of demarcation of provinces. The leaders have accepted the need to change the current demarcation, but they have disagreed with the process proposed by UDMF.
Given the current level of negotiations at the top levels, one cannot rule out the possibility of a major political breakthrough. If things go wrong, the present quiet negotiations are likely to collapse as well.
With the dissolving of the task team, UDMF has made it clear that the negotiations are possible only through the direct dealing at the top level. After a meeting with top leaders of the big three by UDMF leader Rajendra Mahato, UDMF dissolved the task team indicating that the negotiations are only open at the top level.
Despite the closure of the negotiations at the second rank, leaders of the big three and UDMF have opened their negotiations doors to end the four months of political deadlock.
“We want a settlement in cash and there is no question of any agreement on credit,” declared UDMF leader Rajendra Mahato in Janakpur. “Despite some disturbance, I am hopeful that the big three are sincere to accept our demands.”
Mahato said, "We have already wasted a lot of time in unfruitful negotiations and the time has now come for a genuine solution.”
As formal negotiations are postponed, the process is going on behind the curtains. Out of the 11-point demands, the big three have reportedly agreed to address 10 demands through the current process of constitution amendment.
Although Madheshis are pressuring for the issue of demarcation to be the top priority, the big three want it to settled after some more discussions. According to sources, CPN-UML which has been showing so much resistance on citizenship and other issues is now showing flexibility.
At a time when United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) has said that the dramatic changes in major three political parties’ stance have delayed them to strike a deal to end the current crisis, Mahato expressed the feeling of optimism.
Addressing a press conference at Tarai Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) office, UDMF talks member Hridayesh Tripathi announced that it is not relevant to talk with the taskforce anymore.
"There will only be talks with senior leaders of the major three parties. The unity among the major three parties despite differences is to prevent addressing UDMF demands," said TMDP Vice-Chairman Hridayesh Tripathi.
Showing signs for negotiations at the top level, UCPN-Maoist leader Narayan Kazi Shrestha expressed the hope that the current deadlock will end soon. “I am optimistic that the solution will found out within a week. Our negotiation is not yet broken as top leaders are on close contact.”
After breaking the final negotiations when leaders of big three declined to make two provinces in Madhesh, UDMF task force declared that the rationale to have a working group had come to an end and any negotiations will be possible at only the top level.
As the negotiation continues with leaders of UDMF and big three, the parliamentary meeting to decide on the amendment of constitution was put off till January 18.
As the voting for the constituent amendment bill is postponed and political leaders have started negotiations quietly,one cannot rule out the possibility of a breakthrough.