MADHESH AGITATION No End In Sight

The announcement of a new round of agitation by Federal Inclusive Madheshi Alliance (FIMA) and the visit of Madheshi leaders to Bihar indicate that no political settlement would be likely any time soon

Feb. 6, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 09,No14,February 06,2016 (Magh 22,2072)

The day when the United Madheshi Democratic Front and three parties agreed to find a solution for Madhesh, Federal Inclusive Madheshi Alliance (FIMA) leaders announced a new round of agitation in the region and the leaders from neighboring Bihar of India agreed to provide all kinds of support to establish the right of the Madheshis.

These political developments indicate that the ongoing unrest in Madhesh has no solution in the near future. Although three big parties said that the amendment of the constitution has solved most of the problems of Madhesh, UDMF and FIMA have already expressed the view that their 11-point demand cannot be met without rewriting the new constitution in their terms.

This is where the big three political parties seem to have problems as they consider the new constitution as a panacea and harp on the refrain that it is one of the best constitutions of the world.

With the initiative of UCPN chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, UDMF and leaders of three parties have decided to sit for talks to break the deadlock. As the leaders of three major parties have been defending the new constitution and its promulgation process, it is impossible for them to take all the demands of UDMF in rewriting the new constitution.

However, a meeting of the FIMA has rejected further negotiations with the big three parties and announced they would intensify the ongoing agitation in the southern plains.

A two-day meeting of the alliance took a decision to this effect, accusing the state of being apathetic towards their demands. “As the government is least bothered to address our demands even after six months of agitation, we don’t have any option other than to intensify our agitation.

"The meeting has also decided to take the initiatives to form a broader alliance comprising the United Democratic Madhesh Front,” said Sarat Singh Bhandari, chairperson of the Rastriya Madhesh Socialist Party, a constituent of the alliance.

 “To tell the truth, it’s due to the UDMF that the agitation has lost momentum,” said Jaya Prakash Gupta, coordinator of the Terai-Madhesh National Campaign criticizing UDMF. “So all Madhesi forces should come together to form a grand alliance.”

 “We need support from all to take the agitation to a logical conclusion as  it was a struggle for equality and rights,” Anil Kumar Jha, president of Nepal Sadvawana Party, said.

Major political parties and the protesting United Democratic Madhesi Front have agreed to forward the talks between them based on the progress made by their task forces.

The top leaders of major three political parties – Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist – held a meeting with the UDMF leaders and decided to continue the talks based on the task forces’ agreement.

“The talks were held in a very harmonious way,” said UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, “We have agreed to sit for talks again and end the stalemate based on the point where the task forces had reached.”

In the first of January, two task forces representing the Big III and the UDMF each had been holding a series of talks in a bid to convince the agitating alliance for an amendment to the Constitution so as to address their concerns.

The task forces, however, could not prepare any concrete agreement, on which the top leaders could agree and the Constitution Amendment Bill was endorsed without the UDMF consent on January 23.

The Front had been accusing the government and major parties of “unilaterally imposing” the amendment as the Constitution was imposed on September 20.

Bihar’s influential political leader Lalu Prasad Yadav has reportedly assured protesting leaders of Nepal’s Madheshi parties that he would draw the attention of the central government of India as well as Bihar’s state government about extending the support to the ongoing agitation launched by Madheshi parties on the Nepali side.

In a meeting with top three leaders of agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front of Nepal, among others, the former Chief Minister of Bihar also assured his support to the agitation, according to Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, Parsa district chairman Pradeep Yadav, who was present at the meeting.

A plan to bring as many as one million people from the neighboring Indian state of Bihar in a bid to intensify the ongoing Madhesh agitation on the Nepali side has reportedly been agreed between the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and Indian leaders.

After the participation of people gradually dwindled in the five-month long strike, the leaders of UDMF had recently visited Bihar to garner support for their ongoing border-centric protests.

Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the national vice-president of Rastriya Janata Dal (RJD), informed that the people of Bihar would participate in the UDMF’s agitation to “defy the domination of the (Nepal) government toward the Madhesi people.”

Federal Socialist Forum Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav, Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato, Tarai-Madhes Sadbhawana Party’s Chairman Mahendra Yadav and Tarai Madhes Democratic Party’s lawmaker Jagilal Yadav met Indian leaders in Bihar.

Recently, a group of indigenous leaders are also visiting New Delhi seeking the support of Indian government to change the constitution, and the move of UDMF leaders is significant in that sense.

Following the meeting with leaders from Bihar, UDMF will likely intensify their protest even making a grand alliance with FIMA. If it comes to materialize, the new form of agitation will bring further instability.

The only way out for the current political crisis is to forge an agreement between Madheshi Front and three big parties to rewrite the present constitution accommodating all of the 11-point demands. However, it is not easy for big three to swallow the 11-points pill which they discarded during the initial process to hurriedly promulgate the constitution.

 

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