The general strike called today by Rastriya Janata Party Nepal to press for the demands of citizenship and re-demarcation of the provincial boundary evoked mixed response in the country's Madhesi-dominated Southern districts. Madhesi parties in Nepal are divided over participating in the second phase of local body polls be held on June 28, with one faction insisting on taking part in the process to foil the reactionary forces' conspiracy against federalism while other announcing fresh protests to disrupt elections. Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) announced to boycott the second phase of local body elections yesterday. Life in Biratnagar and Birgunj municipalities came to a grinding halt due to the strike as public transport services, market places, educational institutions remained closed due to the shut down in the main city areas. However, in Morang and Parsa districts in Southern districts, the strike had a mixed response. The impact of the strike was less in other peripheral parts of the city with rickshaws and motorbikes plying freely on main roads. According to police, no untoward incidents was reported from anywhere. Despite the poll boycott call by RJPN, two other Madhesi parties Federal Socialist Party Nepal and Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic have decided to participate in the second phase of local level elections. President of Federal Socialist Party Nepal Upendra Mahato has said that the campaign launched by the RJPN to boycott the local election would deprive the Madhesi people of their rights. Federal Socialist Forum Nepal led by Upendra and Naya Shakti Party Nepal led by former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai issued a joint statement calling all Madhesi and ethnic parties, including the RJPN to participate in the elections. "It is necessary to participate in the local level polls to foil the conspiracy hatched by reactionary forces against federalism and to consolidate the rights gained through past movements," the joint statement said. The two parties also urged the government to honour the three point agreement reached between the Madhesi parties and the previous government led by CPN-Maoist Centre chief Prachanda to create a conducive environment for all to participate in the elections. Some Madhes-centric parties have opposed the elections until the Constitution is amended to accommodate their views: more representation in parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries. The Nepal government has tabled a new Constitution amendment bill in the Parliament to address the demands of the agitating Madhesi parties ahead of the local elections. 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 Terai community.
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