Interview with Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato, BBC Nepali Service, 8 April
BBC: The 30-party opposition alliance cut short its three-day general strike despite your party’s objection. Where do you stand now?
Rajendra Mahato: We should have thought it out before calling a three-day general strike. And we should not have called it off once we announced it. The strike’s withdrawal has discouraged our cadre and deepened distrust among us. We will now hold discussions to decide how we can move forward.
Has it also raised questions over the 30-party alliance’s unity?
I don’t think so.
So, why is there a disagreement between your party and the UCPN (Maoist)-MJF (Democratic)?
We will try and work out our differences. We will hold discussions within the Madhesi Front to decide what we can do to carry out a strong political movement.
Wasn’t this proof that you are incapable of carrying out a successful agitation?
Yes, I agree. The 30-party alliance cannot create pressure on the ruling parties in this way.
Is it true that there are cracks within the Madhesi Front and you have not been able to call a meeting of Madhesi leaders since January?
Meetings are called only when they are necessary. We formed the front to serve a specific purpose. If there are differences in our ways to achieve our goal, the front will not remain intact.
There are media reports that Madhesi leaders are not even on speaking terms. True?
It is not true. What is true is that we will be on the same platform only as long as we share the same goal and proceed to achieve it.
Despite so much distrust why are you still together?
We don’t think the rift has grown that wide.
Can we say the 30-party alliance is on the verge of a split?
If we have weaknesses, we must correct them.
It seems that some opposition leaders, including yourself, are more desperate for a street protest? Why is it so?
It is pretty obvious that the way talks are being held, they will not yield any positive results. We have held talks for months. Yet, we have not moved an inch closer to an agreement. We just meet, chat and have tea and return home.
The largest member of the 30-party alliance, the UCPN (Maoist), has started talks with the NC-UML to reach an agreement before 13 April? Do you think that is possible?
I do not think so. The ruling coalition has not felt the heat of our agitation so far. Unless we pull off a strong street movement, they will not listen to us. After all, they have a majority in the Constituent Assembly. Why would they listen to our demands unless they are forced to?
So, what could be the way out?
We need a strong political movement to create pressure on the NC-UML. They want to use their numerical strength to write the new constitution and the only way to stop them is to carry out a strong street protest.
Is it not a democratic right to use numerical strength?
Numerical strength can be used to form the government or decide something in parliament, not to write the new constitution.
Are opposition parties fueling the Gaur unrest?
The Gaur unrest is a conspiracy. The NC and the UML do not want to instituionalise federalism. So, they are expanding service centres at a time when the country needs restructuring. It is a good idea to expand service centres. But, why does the government expand them only along the East-West highway? The locals of Gaur fear that it is a ploy to shift the district headquarters.