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News Editorials: On Madhesi Unity

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A seemingly united Madhesi front is in formation. Few newspapers have spared editorial comments on this potentially a significant political development.

A sample of editorials follow. More editorials updates will be posted on this page.

New Political Focus
The Rising Nepal, December 13, 2007
It seems that the political parties are inching closer to a settlement of outstanding issues.The political stakeholders have been morally and legally compelled to reach a negotiated resolution of the subjects over which they have been haggling for long due to the ensuing situation in the country. The seven party alliance cannot allow the country to slide into a constitutional conundrum by not resolving the issues through appropriate changes and amendments in the interim statute. This is possible only when the seven party alliance acts in unison both in and outside the parliament.

Another development that has challenged and panicked the national political parties has been the widely publicised revolt of the respected Madhesi leaders who have resigned from their respective political organisations, committing themselves to fight for the cause of Madhesh. The Madhesi leaders who relinquished their membership from the national parties come from a range of ideological spectra from the Nepali Congress, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandadevi) to the CPN (UML). This new political equation for the cause of Madhesh emerges right after the formation of a different front by the different political groups, vowing to demand a better deal for Madhesh. The front also comprises the Mahato group of the Nepal Sadbhavana party that split from the NSP (Anandadevi) not very long ago. Once the seven party alliance seals a settlement in a package and makes it public, the centrifugal tendencies evolving within the national political parties can be expected to be checked as all attention will have to be attracted towards the political management of the elections to the Constituent Assembly. No matter what issues are being raised by the political groups from different parts of the country, a strategic and constructive approach is needed to warrant that the concerted and comprehensive national endeavours are put in the making of a new Nepal. As the country is passing through a very fragile political phase, the decision to be taken at the present is important in determining and setting the course of the future history of the nation. At this juncture, the political parties and actors need to demonstrate perseverance, accommodativeness and flexibility to ensure that the ongoing democratisation and peace-building process bear tangible fruits. The gains that have been made should not be allowed to fritter away.



Madhes unity
The Kathmandu Post, December 13, 2007
Last week saw an unprecedented consolidation of forces in Madhes. First, it was the declaration of unification by three armed rebel groups—the two factions of Jwala Singh and Bisphot Singh of the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha and the Tarai Tigers. Then came the announcement of the establishment of the Madhes Liberation Front formed by the merger of the Rajendra Mahato faction of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi) and Upendra Mahato's Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF). A ground-breaking development took place on Monday with the announcement of a new political front in the tarai. Mahanta Thakur, a senior Madhesi leader of the Nepali Congress, resigned his ministerial position and parliamentary membership to lead the front. One lawmaker each from the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi), CPN-UML and RPP quit their parties to join hands with Thakur. Many more senior Madhesi leaders from other political fronts are expected to jump on the bandwagon.

The obvious questions are this: How did such a sudden consolidation of forces happen in the tarai? What will its ramifications be? The consolidation of power will definitely augment their influence in the tarai. However, the formation of a front of armed groups is definitely not going to help the taraibasis. It will only make things worse for them. In fact, the political leaders, who were until now associated with different parties, were compelled to do something in order to offset the ever-increasing threat and influence of gun-slinging bands in the tarai. They who have been demanding autonomy and vowing to attain their goals through a peaceful movement will hopefully help the government improve the pathetic law and order situation in the tarai. We hope that both the Tarai Liberation Front and the new front announced by Thakur and others will at least make the tarai livable for people from all regions and castes. However, if these groups get tempted to establish working relations with any armed group, then the tarai situation will turn from bad to worse.

The emergence of new groups is also revenge of the Madhesi leaders against the parties they were associated with. Had the seven-party government acted promptly and addressed the law and order situation and other valid demands, the leaders would not have been forced to form new political fronts. The formation of these new fronts will probably also convince the Maoists that the Madhesi movement was not waged by the NC and the UML just to minimize their influence in the tarai. However, it is yet to be seen if the Maoists can stop their Madhesi leaders from joining one or the other front. The Post believes that the armed groups should be dealt with sternly by the government, but the unarmed and peaceful groups should be allowed to grow as political parties. We hope the peaceful political groups will dissociate themselves from anti-social elements and de-escalate the ethnic acrimony in the tarai.



High time concerns of Madhesis are addressed
The Himalayan Times (by Prakash Rimal), December 11, 2007
On Monday, Mahantha Thakur and the company disclosed their intention to form a new party to champion the cause of the Madhes. Of course, an event of that scale would be surprising and shocking to many. But, should one analyse the reports and opinions that we got to read in newspapers, hear on radios and watch on televisions within the past 72 hours, it’s not very difficult to find a combination of superficial analysis, negativism and conspiracy theories. Perhaps, a certain politically conscious class seems to have been baffled most by the turn of events.

The coming together of the Madhesi MPs to form a regional party along ethnic lines is a landmark in Nepal’s democratic polity since 1990. This does not necessarily be seen in the light of negativity and conspiracy. What’s wrong when the Madhesi leaders and activists group together to launch a political entity to advance their interests, to demand more representation and assert their rights in the state mechanism? It is only natural given the discrimination the Madhesi people have been subjected to.

There seems to be an underlying tendency to view the move otherwise, and this is a legacy of the past. King Mahendra saw BP Koirala’s call for democracy and for the rights of the people as fatal to the ‘national interests.’ BPK and other activists were dubbed anti-national elements. Before that, the Ranas held a similar view on the forces opposed to them when the latter demanded their rights. The political powers of the day and the national psyche unfortunately tend to look at the campaign led by Thakur more or less in the same light. Let’s face it — Monday’s development is a manifestation of the state continually failing to address the concerns of the Madhesi community despite always accepting these issues as legitimate. The leadership and the state mechanism have largely remained apathetic to the call.

Now that the Madhesi leaders have unveiled their plan, Nepal’s political leadership should accept it as potentially positive. Now should focus not just on promises to the people but see to it that they deliver the goods, ensure representation and give rights to the people that they deserve. And, this definitely calls for a well planned re-structuring of the state to address the needs and concerns of the Nepali people of all ethnic backgrounds. Failing to act could lead to more serious problems, and could even lead to disintegration, albeit gradually. One may only hope the wisdom dawns on the political leadership as it plans to launch us all into a new Nepal.



Some other recent editorials

Asia: In limbo; Nepal's peace process
The Economist London: Nov 10, 2007

Neither very peaceful, nor in process.
A MONTH after the abduction of a journalist, Birendra Sah, in the district of Bara in southern Nepal, three Maoist parliamentarians this week announced the findings of their own inquiry into the affair. They concluded that two local Maoist officials had shot Mr Sah dead, on the orders of their local superior but outside party policy. This followed weeks of obfuscation from the Maoist leadership and the government and came after Mr Sah's weeping wife appeared in public in Kathmandu.

Although last year's peace agreement officially ended the Maoist insurrection, abductions, threats and violence have continued. The Terai, the southern plain, is now the most violent part of Nepal. Perpetrators include the Maoists, a string of new militant and criminal groups, and the army and police. There are now more than 20 Terai factions, mostly claiming to espouse the rights of the marginalised southern peoples known as Madhesis. The daily litany of violence recalls the war years. In recent days a youth was burnt to death, a local politician had his throat slit and a bomb in the town of Birgunj killed one person.

The backdrop to this violence is renewed political stalemate. In October elections to a constituent assembly, planned for this month, were postponed indefinitely. The Maoists had earlier walked out of the interim cabinet. They had a long series of new demands, notably a system of proportional representation for the elections, and the immediate abolition of the monarchy.

The political limbo feeds the violence. It is rooted in the minorities' sense of continued discrimination; the politicians' obsession with short-term political gain; and the Maoists' failure so far to accept peaceful, competitive politics. As the Maoists struggle to overcome internal divisions between hardliners and pragmatists, their Young Communist League has revived their old system of parallel government and rough justice.

Many other questions remain unresolved. The United Nations mission in Nepal, UNMIN, is concerned about the prolonged confinement of former Maoist fighters in 28 camps. This week UNMIN's head, Ian Martin, offered to discuss a long-term solution for them and the Nepal Army, which under the peace accord is meant to become more inclusive. The army's hardliners, however, resent any hint of UN involvement.


People all the time
Nepali Times December 7, 2007
The seven parties deliberated on the extension of UNMIN's mandate until they were blue in the face. What they should have been more worried about was their own mandate.

These unelected, unrepresentative leaders, either catapulted themselves to power by killing lots of people or had power thrust upon them after the April Uprising. The Six Plus One like to say that they are where they are because of the sacrifices made during the pro-democracy movement that brought down the king. What they forget is that it was the people who made the sacrifices, and they have to go back to the people to seek a fresh mandate.
By delaying elections time and again on one pretext or another they have proven themselves to be unaccountable, irresponsible and devoid of a democratic culture. Of course they have elaborate pretexts: demands for full proportional representation, lack of security, declaring Nepal a republic first because the king will try to rig polls. Actually there is only one reason they don't want elections: because they think they will lose. The Maoists know that they will never have the one third of seats in parliament that they awarded themselves. The NC is sure to lose its commanding position over the government and legislature. Only the UML could be expected to gain from elections, but even they weren't campaigning seriously enough.

The problem with this behaviour is that our cynical politicians think they can get away with it, they think they can fool all the people all the time. But just as we didn't tolerate a royal-military dictatorship and rose up against it, the Nepali people will not tolerate an indefinite seven-party dictatorship. The seven-party alliance may have been able to redeem itself and gain a degree of legitimacy if, even if it couldn't hold elections, it showed improved governance and efficient service delivery. But even here it has failed miserably: the tarai is out of bounds, law and order has never been this bad even during the conflict years, the petroleum shortage is growing worse, garbage is piling up and corruption is a way of life. The people's verdict is that this coalition is unfit to govern.

The only thing they expect this government to do is to keep its promise to announce an election date and then step down.


[Note: The above editorials are lifted from the websites of respective newspapapers. If you own copyright to the above texts and would not like us to excerpt them, please email us at and we will immediately remove them from our website]


Honor the People of Nepal

How can a process be democratic when the very procedure is undemocratic? How hard or complicated is it for the democratic parties to explain to the Maoists that one cannot nab people’s mandate. The people of Nepal have to be given the awesome privilege to decide the faith of monarchy, or any other matter, in their country, and not the unelected people's representatives. I am not an advocate of monarchy, frankly, I want monarchy removed, but I want it done the right way. I do not want the decision we make today to haunt the people of Nepal for eternity.

Please listen Prachanda! This is a very crucial moment for Nepal. It is a time when we the people of Nepal are hoping true democracy will finally have a place in our country. Thank you for bringing the country this far. Without your political rebellion Nepal would not be at this political crossroads today. However, no thank you for deterring the establishment of a true democracy. At the very inception of democracy you are taking away the rights of the people and imposing Nepal be declared a Republic. Hold off on this, and do it the right way. Let the people use their mandate. You will be thankful!

With due respect, I would like to tell the Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala not to be capricious in his decision making process. Please make the right decision on behalf of the people of Nepal. I am not asking you to be standoffish with the Maoists but please look for an alternative solution and not give into the Maoist demand. Read them this letter and if they think they are fighting to honor people’s rights this should help them change their minds.

Let the people of Nepal feel honored and trusted. Honor and trust are the building blocks of any successful nation. I promise the sky will be the limit to a steadfast development in all aspects of our Nation building. Once again, let the people decide their country’s faith. Democracy is more than just promoting the majority’s wishes; it is to let the minority experience their hopes.

Thank you all for honoring an average Nepali’s desire.

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Brihát Śhānti Sámjhautā, 2006
(Comprehensive Peace Agreement)

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