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Reluctant Madhes

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
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NAVIN JHA

After the CA Chair Subhas Nembang, apparently under pressure from the ruling coalition, initiated a vote on the new constitution, the opposition alliance has been on the warpath. The Maoist-Madhesi parties have not withdrawn their protest programs even after Nembang halted the voting process.

The UCPN (M) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has declared Kathmandu, Madhes and ethnic strongholds of the hills as three fronts of their future protests. But, the Maoist and Madhesi leaders know they need to spearhead a strong agitation in the Madhes if they want to put pressure on the ruling coalition.

Reduced to a third party after the second CA elections, the Maoists are trying to regain some strength through street protests. On the other hand, the Madhesi parties also want to restore their foothold in the Madhesi through a political movement.

In remote villages of the southern plains, the locals, however, seem reluctant for a stir anytime soon. “It is not easy to make people hit the streets,” says Kaushalendra Srivastav, a local in Nawalparasi district. Srivastav feels people are annoyed with divisions among political parties.

The Maoist-Madhesi parties are not the only political players in the Madhes. CK Raut, who was arrested on the charge of treason and later freed, has increased his political activities. Matrika Yadav, who formed his own party when CPN (M) became UCPN (M), is also active in the Madhes. After serving a one-year jail term on the charge of corruption, JP Gupta is spearheading his Tarai-Madhes National Campaign. There has also been a surge in activities of armed groups.

The political landscape of the Madhes is rapidly changing. But, the parties that claim to be champions of the cause of the Madhesi people seem oblivious.

The people of Madhes are frustrated with the prolonged political deadlock and politically-incorrect statements by the ruling party leaders, particularly UML Chief KP Oli, has further antagonised the locals. Separatists like CK Raut have made the best out of this political fallout.

The ruling NC-UML and the opposition Maoist-Madhesi apparently have differences over status of five districts of Madhes (Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari in the east and Kailali and Kanchanpur in the west) in the new federal set up.  While the ruling parties want these districts to be clubbed with hill provinces, the opposition parties want all the districts predominated by the Madhesi to remain as part of the southern provinces.

Chakradhar Pandey, a local MJF-Nepal leader in Kapilvastu, who played a key role in the Madhes movement, says if there is another movement in the Madhes, it will be directed not only against the ruling coalition but also the Madhesi parties. He says the Madhesi parties have failed to fight for the Madhesi people’s aspirations for autonomy and self-rule.

In the past, the parties paid a price for ignoring anger simmering in the Madhes. Girija Prasad Koirala failed to read the writing on the wall, which led to the Madhes movement in 2007. Similarly, Maoist aggression against Madhesi activists during the same period made them unpopular during the first CA elections. And, the electoral defeat of the Madhes-based parties in the second CA elections is a reminder that those who fail to live up to expectations of the people are punished accordingly.

It is not the first time the Madhesi people are demanding autonomy. In fact, it was first raised in the 1950s by Nepal Terai Congress, whose leaders fought alongside Nepali Congress (NC) veterans against the Rana oligarchy. In the 1980s, Gajendra Narayan Singh-led Sadbhawana Party had demanded autonomy of Madhes from hill administration but was snubbed by Kathmandu for being a ‘seperatist’ and ‘pro-Indian’.

Srivastav, who was a long time aide to Singh, believes attitude of the hill people towards the Madhesi people is at the root of the demand for a self rule in the Madhes. ‘People of Madhes want to be citizens of this country on their own terms, and if Kathmandu does not respect their desire, they will never be emotionally integrated in the national mainstream,’ says he.

Common people in the Madhes still believe that the parties will eventually find a peaceful solution to their problems. That is why they have deliberately refrained from reacting to opposition’s posturing against the ruling coalition. But, if the leaders in Kathmandu over-read their electoral mandate to disregard the agendas raised by the 2007 movement, there is now doubt the Madhesi people will rise again for a movement.

And, no now knows how far people will go this time around.

Read also:

Cracks in the Madhesi Front

A stir within

 

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3 Responses to “Reluctant Madhes”

  1. namah on Says:

    ‘citizens of this country on their own terms’

    WOW! not a single of these so called madhesi leaders will say something similar if offered the true blue passport (USA). they will put their wimpy little tails between their legs and happily abide by the law of the land. so why are they so willing to flex their muscles (thoracic/larynx) in Nepal?

    1. they believe might is right…perhaps the influence of how politics plays out in India.
    2. they perceive every little action from kathmandu to be anti madheshi

    What they don’t understand is that there has been a tectonic shift in India’s attitude to Nepal. No more pandering to the madheshis, or ethnic federation. in the same breath I would say that the nepali hill cabal is not helpful in being able to reach out to their nepali brethren – madhesh included.

    something seriously ails Nepali politicians…what I am still trying to figure out…

  2. Dirgha Raj Prasai on Says:

    Long Live Democratic-Nepal with monarchy and Hindu Kingdom

    Nepal is a country which has a long history of communal harmony where all castes, religions and languages have survived and flourished with tolerance and co-existence. The Nepali language establishes the unity and collective identity of the diverse ethnic groups of Nepal. The Nepali Language has been both the official and the Lingua Franca between ethnic groups of Nepal (as well as abroad). Because it is the international language, we respect English language too. We regard the Hindi Language also but not as an official language, because everybody has their own mother languages. If Hindi also is accepted as an official language, that will mean the domination of India. And we’ll never support the suicidal demands of Indian agents.
    Since 2006, we, the Nepalese people are fighting against the naked intervention of India’s RAW and CIA. The Republic, secularism and federalism are agendas of India-RAW & the CIA but are not the actual issues of Nepal. The reality is that we should have Nepal as a good example of ‘unity in diversity.’ That is, we must recognize the multi-cultures and multi-languages of Nepal as the national assets.
    Now, it’s because of our corrupt leaders we have to be dependent on India. There was a time in Nepal about 15 to 20 years back, where food was cheaper in Nepal than in India. We even had good factories for cloth, cement, leather etc. In the name of privatization our corrupt leaders fell prey to Indian conspiracy and sold the factories to Indian brokers by the traitor’s regime. So, the main problem in Nepal is actually the corrupt and culprit leaders, who are backed up by foreigners and don’t feel responsible towards the country. The Constituent Assembly never can format the constitution. The real solution of the present problem is to implement the 1990 constitution with monarchy and Hindu kingdom and come into an understanding for the country’s benefit – and not what foreigners want us to do for their own benefit.
    To save Nepal they should join hands with the royal institution and stand against expansionist and imperialist conspiracy and fight imperialist force. Due to the Nepali Congress’s and UML’s downfall, since 10 years ago, the regime was handed-over to the King Gyanendra in 2001. The situation was such that the king had to take over the power in a hurry. But, the Congress and UML did not support the King and instead joined hands with the Maoist rebels by the command of the Indian intelligence agency-RAW and foreign leaders. As we already know that, the state system must run on the basis of reason and result. To only blame the royal institution, taking it as the cause for all the problems is nothing but treachery.
    The reality of the crisis in Nepal is that the Nepali Congress (NC), UML and Maoists had betrayed the political agreement of 2006 with King Gyanendra. No one can succeed by breaking an agreement. In 2006 the agitators were pleading for monarchy as an alternative force in times of crisis. An agreement was reached to reinstate the House of Representatives, which was dissolved under NC recommendation-2002, although the monarchy did not posses the right to reinstate it. The monarchy reinstated the parliament and appointed Girija Prasad Koirala to the post of premiership. The oath of office ceremony for the Prime Minister was administered by the king himself in the royal palace premises. Gradually, the agreement reached with the king was broken and the royal institution was attacked, which is a huge betrayal to Nepal.
    It would cure Nepal to reinstate the ‘constitution of 1990’ in order to fill-up the democratic and constitutional gap with the presence of monarchy with political parties and nationalist forces including the army, police, court and various organizations of the nation. From that path, we can get the solution and then all the nationalists should move ahead by creating coordinative relations between nationality, the Royal Institution and democracy.
    Thank you
    Dirgha Raj Prasai

  3. namah on Says:

    Prasai Ji,

    You know the name of the longest river in Africa? It’s THE NILE … sometimes called DENIAL…the state in which you seem to be…

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