At a time when the government is showing reluctance to make any breakthrough in negotiations with the Madhesh-based parties, RAJENDRA MAHATO, Chair of Sadbhawana Party,warns of launching a massive uprising. Mahato spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT. Excerpts:
How do you see the government’s decision to form high level mechanism to solve the boundary issue?
It is merely an eye wash as it lacked the consent of agitating parties including Madheshis, Janjatis and Tharus. The major parties did not agree on the terms of reference for the mechanism. It is unfortunate to say that the government even did not use the word Terai and Madhesh that they have already agreed to the talks with two task force. The government formed the mechanism just to show to India that it is trying to solve Madheshi problems. Frankly, speaking this government is not serious.
What will be the next move?
We will decide next move soon. Given the three parties nature, we don’t have any option others than to launch an agitation. The coming agitation will wipe out these bunch of leaders.
How do you look at the present situation?
We have already lifted the border blockade. It is time for the ruling parties to act. If the government and the major parties did not address the Madhes movement, the United Democratic Madhesi Front would create a storm of protests in April and May.
Why did you lift the blockade?
UDMF suspended the extreme forms of protest and if the government and major forces did not utilize the current lull to address the Madhesh movement, the agitating forces would create a storm of protest in April and May.
How do you view the visit of Prime Minister Oli to India?
If Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited India without addressing the ongoing Madhesh movement, his visit would not be a successful event. Indian people had supported the Madhesh movement and PM Oli’s visit would succeed only if he addressed the Madhesh movement before embarking on his India visit.Our Prime Minister will receive the goodwill of Indian people only if he indicates that he is willing to address the Madhes movement.
How do you view the recent anti-Indian rhetoric of ruling parties?
Whipping up anti-India sentiments in Nepal would not serve the interest of the nation.China’s support to Nepal is a positive thing, nobody should take it negatively. But, China cannot be a substitute of India.
What should be the terms of reference for the political mechanism?
The terms of reference for a political mechanism to be formed to revise the provincial boundaries should clearly state what the mechanism would do. We favor two provinces in Madhesh.
Do you think major parties will agree on your demands?
At this stage, I have doubts whether the major parties’ talk of forming a political mechanism to settle the boundary question is just an attempt to hatch a conspiracy against the agitating forces. Major parties should not use negotiations as a strategy to tire out the protesters.
How long will your agitation go?
We will continue to fight till we achieve our goals and for the time we are conserving our energy. It is not that Madheshi people or parties are fatigued, or they have been defeated. The expansion of the UDMF is a beginning of its effort to conserve its energy.
Will UDMF expand further?
The UDMF is also likely to induct other forces into it and in the next phase even those forces that do not have representation in the Parliament could be inducted. The parties that champion the cause of Tharu community are also likely to be inducted into UDMF the next time. I hope Madheshi and Janajati lawmakers of the major parties are likely to assist the ongoing agitation.
You said you want to continue agitation. Then, why did you lift the blockade in Birgunj-Raxual?
The blockade of the Birgunj-Raxaul border entry point could not generate enough pressure on the government and that was the reason the UDMF lifted the blockade. My argument was that either we should blockade all the border entry points or let all the border entry points to remain open.