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Why is the Madhes calm?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

madhesOm Astha Rai

When Nepal was divided into six federal provinces at the stroke of the midnight hour on Saturday, violent protests were anticipated across the Madhes. However, the plains have been relatively calm this week.

Even though the Tharus have been demonstrating in huge numbers, and have announced a Tarai shutdown for four days starting Wednesday, the Madhesi people have not been seen agitating on the streets in the first two days of the 8 August deal which integrated five disputed districts of the Tarai with hill provinces.

To be sure, Madhesi party cadre have burnt effigies of top leaders of the four parties which signed the deal, carried out torch rallies and burned the draft constitution in some parts of the Tarai. But the mood in the Madhes seems to be more subdued with the people not joining in.

There were violent clashes across the Mid-west region on Monday which left one protester dead and four seriously injured in Surkhet. The locals continue to protest in Surkhet, but this is more a regional issue about not wanting to be a part of Province 6.

Federal Socialist Madhes Forum (FSMF) Chair Upendra Yadav on Tuesday warned of a strong revolt if the six-province federalism model was not corrected. Before walking out of a Constituent Assembly (CA) meeting, he said: “Identity and viability have been ignored while creating a Madhes province. People have rejected this federalism model. Do not coerce them to accept it.”

But the Madhesi Front, a coordinating body of the disgruntled Madhesi parties led by the FSMF, doesn’t seem to be able to decide how to react. A meeting of the Madhesi Front had decided on Monday to wait for one more day to unveil its protest programs.  The leaders seem to realise that their cadres have not wholeheartedly joined the agitation yet.

Birendra Prasad Mahato, a CA member from the FSMF, says: “Top leaders of the NC, the UML and the UCPN (M) have promised to revise the new federalism deal, so we are in dilemma over whether to wait for a few more days or launch protest programs right away.”

But that may not be the only reason. Rakesh Jha, Siraha district committee President of the Tarai Madhesi Democratic Party (TMDP) says reasons are technical, and not political.  “People in the Madhes are angry over how they have been treated by the ruling parties,” he says. “But they cannot descend on the streets right away.”

Rains arrived in the Tarai late this year, farmers who suffered from drought in June and July are busy planting paddy.”It’s difficult to rally people during the rainy season,” says Jha. “The priority of farmers is the next harvest, they can think about constitution and federalism only after that.”

Mithilesh Yadav, a Tarai-based journalist, says absence of a trustworthy leader is another reason behind the delay. “The demand for one Madhes province is not that strong now,” he says. “But the Madhesi are angry because Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa have been included in the eastern province.”

He says, “The Madhesi people no longer trust the likes of Upendra Yadav, Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato because they always talk of a new movement but cannot walk out of the CA. If they quit the CA, come to the Tarai and be with the Madhesi people, they could start another movement here.”

The Madhesi people want federalism more than any other identity groups. It was the Madhes uprising that forced the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to amend the Interim Constitution-2007 and accept federalism.

CA member Mahato says: “Silence of the Madhes does not mean that we have agreed to confine ourselves between Parsa and Saptari. It is like calm before the storm.”

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6 Responses to “Why is the Madhes calm?”

  1. Shree Shrestha on Says:

    This Madhes state should be divided into two – Bhojpura and Mithila.

  2. jeetandra raut pal on Says:

    I don’t like this mithila state because in this state.There are undeveloped district.There are
    no big city which are boundaries to india.And this state is also very small state.
    so if you add two district sunsari and morang Than it may better for us.Please see my comment.

  3. sushil kumar on Says:

    Maddesh is really the 8 districts Parsa to Saptari and most of the 19.5% Madesis live in this region.

  4. Nishchalnath Pandey on Says:

    kailali is very much in the Plains

  5. Gopal Mishra on Says:

    Do not forget the name Raut. There are many people in Madseh today that can think for themselves. They do not need the Bahun elites in Kathmandu and Biratnagar to tell them what is good for them. Also the do not need men like Uprendra and Mahant to name a few to tell them what is good for them. Madeshi people are quite capable of looking after their needs and fighting for their rights. Its only the stupid Bahun elites in Kathmandu that fail to see that reality. Do not underestimate the silence of Madeshi people.

  6. namah on Says:

    @Mishra…are you looking for a fight? be careful … you might just get what you wish for…

    ‘silence of the Madeshi people’ … now that is classic oxymoron eluding me for years…thank you.


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