Prashant Jha: How do you see this agreement?
Upendra Yadav: This is a historic agreement. It takes the country from a unitary to a federal state with autonomy, and ensures proportional representation of Madhesis in all state organs. This addresses the issue of identity. This is the best deal, the maximum achievement possible under the present situation.
Why have you given up on core demands like a fully PR electoral system?
The election is the national priority. If the electoral system is changed now, it would not be possible to hold timely polls. As responsible political actors, we compromised to enable polls to take place. We have not given up on the demand and expressed a note of dissent.
What is your reaction to the rebellion within the party?
This is not a split. Those opposing the deal are against the constituent assembly and will have little impact. They are immature and do not have a practical vision. We tried to convince them but now the central committee has decided to expel them for anti-party activities. This group is being driven from elsewhere, by those who do not want elections.
Who are you pointing towards - the king or the Maoists?
It could be either. They have no direction and are confused. Some statements indicate they are willing to work with the Maoists. This is completely against MJF policy.
Do you think this deal will solve the madhes problem given that there are so many other groups?
The entire country is in a fluid situation. There will be clarity only after the elections, both nationally and in Madhes. Yes, to solve the madhes problem, the government will need to bring other groups on board. This process of indirect contact has begun, including with armed groups.
Some critics allege that the problem is that you spend too much time in Kathmandu and have not engaged with people on the ground.
We are a small party. The situation is constantly evolving and a few people have to manage everything- all the problems that come up. I met lots of people here, several issues came up. Now we have finally arrived at an accord.