Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cracks appear in Madhesi alliance in Nepal


By Anil Giri
Kathmandu, April 21 (IANS)
Discontent and ego issues seem to have surfaced among leaders of the agitating Madhesi political parties in Nepal after a section forged an alliance with the indigenous Janajati groups.

The Madhesi parties waged a more than five-month-long agitation — from September last year post-promulgation of the country’s new Constitution till February — demanding roll-back in various provisions of the new statute they deemed discriminatory.

The new alliance, which calls itself ‘Sanghiya Gathabandhan’ (federal alliance), has announced a fresh round of protests in Kathmandu. However, as discontent brewed, the alliance has apparently backtracked from its plan to launch the Kathmandu protest.

It has, however, said that it will focus on district-level awareness campaigns till mid-May, and will launch a full-fledged protest after that.

A Madhesi leader told IANS that after one of their senior leaders, Upendra Yadav — chairperson of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal — decided to join hands with the Janajati faction for a joint agitation, suspicion grew within the Madhesi ranks and file.

“Though we are struggling to announce the fresh stir due to some technical reasons, we will make it public soon,” said Manish Suman, general secretary of the Sadbhawana Party.

“There are suggestions that due to the fresh protest, people should not suffer like during the previous one… so it has taken some days to chalk out the plan,” he added.

Expressing displeasure over the content of the constitution, the Madhesi parties imposed a five-month-long blockade along the Nepal-India border, creating difficulties for supply of essential items and fuel from India.

A large section of agitating Madhesi leaders want Mahantha Thakur, president of the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, to be given the reins of the agitation, while some are pitching for Upendra Yadav.

On Wednesday, Thakur and another senior Madeshi leader Rajendra Mahato –president of the Sadbhawana Party — did not attend a meeting of the alliance at the office of Yadav’s Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum (Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal).

Sources say the planned protest was postponed after some leaders were skeptical about its success.

Madhesi leaders like Thakur and Mahato had expressed doubts about the Kathmandu-centric protest.

They feel they could reach some political settlement with the major parties through dialogue and want to continue the protest in the Madhes region.

People opposed to the alliance with the Janajati groups say a protest with them cannot be effective as the latter did not even bother to condemn the killing of Madhesi protestors during the earlier movement.

A total of 59 people were killed during the agitation.

The Madhesis are demanding, among others, a redrawing of the boundaries of the provinces in the Himalayan nation as proposed in the new Constitution; and restoration of rights granted to Madhesis in the interim constitution of 2007 which the new charter has snatched away.

They also want representation in Parliament on the basis of population — the Nepal Terai has almost 51 percent of the country’s population yet gets only one-third of seats in Parliament — and proportional representation in government jobs.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at [email protected])

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