“Messiahs of Madhes” have forgotten their ground
Upendra Yadav seems quite happy after merging his Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal with the Baburam Bhattarai-led Naya Shakti Party-Nepal. Yadav boasts of becoming the chief of new party-Samajwadi Party Nepal, which he thinks is a national party and can be an alternative to two old parties: the Nepali Congress and the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Yadav, who rose to fame for burning the copies of the Interim Constitution in 2007 for not addressing the Madhesi agenda, particularly, federalism, appears to be flying in the fantasy of projecting himself to be the messiah of Madhes. His party is leading the government in Province-2. Rastriya Janta Party-Nepal also seems to be satisfied with the party’s success in the last parliamentary and provincial elections. RJP-N is now a partner in the Samajwadi Party Nepal led coalition in Province-2.
But the reality is that both these parties that achieved electoral gains mainly on planks of Madhesi empowerment have been losing their real ground in Madhes which is their vote bank. The SP-N and the RJP-N fought provincial elections jointly but after the election they did not feel the need to collaborate in the federal government. This was the reason why the SP-N joined the government and the RJP-N chose to sit in the opposition.
However, both parties have formed government in the province-2. If we keep Baburam Bhattrai out for a moment, both the parties have their vote bank in Terai/Madhesh. When the RJPN and then FSFN took part in the elections held after the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution, they betrayed the Madhesi people who protested to seek amendment to the constitution. Scores of people were killed after the promulgation of the constitution in Madhes during protests.
Upendra Yadav joined the government forging a two-point agreement with Nepal Communist Party [NCP] and the agreement mentions the amendment of the constitution. But after becoming a junior partner in the government with two-third majority, Upendra Yadav does not want to speak about the amendment. The KP Oli-led Cabinet does not even invite Upendra Yadav while holding Cabinet meeting about major issues.
SP-N is mum on government’s decision to allow federal public service commission (PSC) to recruit local level staff. It indicates that Yadav has abandoned his political agenda and he only cares about his partnership in the NCP led government. Yadav has no say in the cabinet because the cabinet had provided legitimate ground to the PSC to announce the vacancy which is being protested by independent groups like Terai Madhesh National Council [TMNC].
While talking about the RJP-N, this party is still not a complete party; rather it’s a ‘parties within a party’. This party does not have any single and candid ideology because of the presidium system. All members of the presidium have their own kind of ideologies. Ego of each leader within the party has kept the agenda of Madhes movement in dark. RJP-N had supported the present government for more than a year even if it was not the part of government. It withdrew the support when its elected Member of Parliament Resham Lal Chaudhary was sentenced with lifetime imprisonment. It shows that the case of Chaudhary was a bargain card for the party. If he was given clean chit, the party would have joined the government. And the agenda of constitution would become a mere ‘political agenda’ for the party.
RJP-N also failed to intervene in the vacancy announced by the federal PSC. This vacancy was sent to the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament where two presidents of RJP-N, Rajendra Mahato and Raj Kishor Yadav are the members. Don’t they have any responsibility to the people? Or do they have any extraordinary business that bars them from being involved in public interest?
A High Level Enquiry Level Commission [HLEC] was formed under Girish Chandra Lal, the retired senior Justice of the Supreme Court, to investigate into the killings and all types of human rights violations that occurred during the last Madhes movement. The commission has submitted its report to the government already. The speaker of the federal parliament has asked the government two times but the report has not been made public yet. Given this scenario, on what moral ground is SP-N still a part of the government? What is the RJP-N doing?
Let’s now talk about Province-2 government which is being collectively run by two parties mentioned above. First, to implement newly adopted federalism a state needs basic laws to make the system functional. Province-2 government committed a blunder in the Province Police Act by not incorporating the genuine reservation quota for Dalits and corrected it after facing hard agitation from Dalit activists.
Second, Province-2 brought forward a Province Media Council Bill and this bill also became controversial and the government assured the journalists that it would be corrected. It’s worth thinking what would have happened if the stakeholders had not opposed those bills? How the government having a Chief Attorney General [who is to provide legal input while drafting bills] can be so careless?
Similarly, government of province-2 does not believe in being transparent with the provincial affairs, basically dealing with the financial affair. For instance, Shailendra Kranti, a prominent journalist based at Janakpurdham, is tirelessly asking the government to publish the actual expenses during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kranti frequently complains in his Facebook posts that ministers and officials of Province-2 concerned always deny information to the journalists.
Most importantly, recently a video clip of an interview taken with the Chief Minister [CM] Mohammad Lal Babu Raut Gaddi has become viral in which a journalist asks the CM, “Did province-2 government distribute more bicycles than the actual number supposed to be distributed to the school girls?” Instead of responding to the question with facts and realities, he used a ‘below the belt’ terminology which can’t be uttered in the public domain. What sort of precedent does the CM wants to set? Why such anger?
Likewise, when the National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] of Nepal published a report on Maleth Incident [where five people were killed by security forces during the then KP Oli-led Mechi-Mahakali campaign], the province government had opposed the report and formed province level investigation committee. It’s been more than a year but the committee is still to publish that report.
The above-mentioned incidents go on to prove that these parties are politically myopic and are not concerned with the core agenda of Madhesh movement, the womb from which they came out. Amendment of Constitution and delivering justice to the fighters of the movement are no more the agenda of these parties. They should not think that they have become national parties as their as their core ground is still Terai/Madhes. Fulfillment of the aspiration of ordinary Madhesis can only protect their political future.
The writer is a human rights activist and freelancer.
Published on 20 August 2019