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Alliances of discomfort

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Madhesi politics is undergoing a tectonic shift and the early tremors have already been felt. But many have undermined the scale of its impact. While the media reports have been rife with talks of internal homework between Mahanta Thakur’s Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Upendra Yadav’s Madhesi Janadhikar Forum for a unification, there is larger development silently taking place.

Upendra Yadav’s MJF-Nepal along with Rastriya Madhes Samajwadi Party led by Sarat Singh Bhandari, M. S Thapa led Rastriya Janamukti Party and Janajati leaders like Parasuram Khapung have formed a political alliance with other fringe groups along twin agenda of identity and federalism. “We will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon and declare the alliance.”, MJF-N’s Yogendra Yadav told Nepali Times over the phone from Jhapa district.

Yadav further said that the alliance would bring together those who have been ‘betrayed and exploited’ by the big parties including the ruling UCPN-M and the Madhesi morcha. However, when asked about unification with TMLP, he clarified, “We respect Mahantaji and want this unification to take place but we will not enter into UDMF which has failed people of Madhes and instead request TMLP to ally with us.” The young leader who is close to Upendra Yadav didn’t mince word while claiming that the idea of the unification was to establish Thakur as party’s father figure while making Yadav its political head.

The parties in alliance are holding last minute talks with Limbuwan leaders in the east as well as other Janajati leaders including UML’s Ashok Rai and Rajendra Shrestha.Whether or not the new alliance has potential to influence the future course of Nepali politics, it will once again bring back Upendra Yadav into political center-stage.

A Madhesi journalist who has been closely following these development believes, the lack of clear class or caste basis makes alliance between Thakur and Yadav unlikely.  “Besides, Upendra Yadav will not forget under what circumstances TMLP was established and how Thakur downsized his influence in Madhesi politics.”, he says.

The alliance itself is an ambitious one where parties and leaders from different orientation will be coming together with a common agenda of identity and federalism, but the biggest challenge for Yadav and his partners will be to explain to the people – how will their alliance be different from the one formed by the ruling coalition under the same tenets?

In any case, these are not electoral alliances but power consortium in which individuals and groups are looking to secure their future bargaining power amid great political uncertainties.

Anurag Acharya

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