Interview- No Meaning In Holding CA Polls Without Addressing Madhesi Concerns

February 3, 2008 at 4:25 am 5 comments

“No Meaning In Holding CA Polls Without Addressing Madhesi Concerns”

Sarbendra Nath Shukla

Sarbendra Nath Shukla

Spokesperson of the recently formed Terai-Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) SARBENDRA NATH SHUKLA, 58, has been in politics for a long time. Having served as a minister and worked under different capacities in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Shukla is known for his stronghold in western terai. Shukla spoke to KESHAB POUDEL at his residence, on Tuesday morning, regarding the present political situation of the country and role of his party. Excerpts:

Why did you form a regional-based political party just ahead of election?

When we made decision to form a regional based party under the leadership of Mahanta Thakur, the election date was not announced. After formation of our party, the new election date was announced.

Why the need for a new party?

As you know, the problems of Madhes and Madhesis have been burning and you cannot go ahead without solving them. We have seen adamant positions by mainstream political parties regarding resolving problems of Madhes. To fulfill the vacuum and establish a strong party, we decided to join together. Our party is committed to integrity and sovereignty of Nepal.

It means your party will contest the election of Constituent Assembly?

We are not anti-election party but the election of the CA must be meaningful. If the CA election is held just for the purpose of holding election, it will have no sense. We are not interested to contest such election drama. Our stand is clear. We have already made it clear that the government must fulfill our 11-points demand to make the election for CA fruitful. One of the aims of CA is to give rights to marginalized people including Madhesi, Dalits and Janajatis. At a time when the country’s overall law and order situation has already deteriorated further, it will be very difficult to hold free and fair election. The situation in Nepal is such that nobody is in a position to address the mass meetings in interior hinterlands.

But, seven political parties have already organized a number of mass meetings in terai. Doesn’t it indicate that people want election?

You cannot claim that the situation is favorable for election just by bringing few thousands of people by mobilizing state’s resources and intimidation. The meeting was stage-managed by the state.

Do you mean that if the government does not fulfill your demand, your party will boycott the election?

We have not said that we will boycott the election. Our point is that there is no sense in holding the election without addressing 11-point demand of our party, which are basically related to Madhes and Madhesi community.

Doesn’t that mean your party is not sincere towards the election?

Actually, our party favors Constituent Assembly election since Madhesi people require it to ensure equal sharing in the government. Actually, Seven Party Alliance, particularly, three major parties of the alliance, want to postpone the election by blaming us for their failure. If SPA government is sincere towards election, they must fulfill our demands and address the problems of Madhes.

Don’t you think that you are also betraying common people by challenging their right to decide about their fate through election?

By postponing election three times in the past, SPA, particularly its three main constituents, have already exposed their faces. So far as our party is concerned, we want constituent assembly election to empower people and settle the long-standing problems. We are not betraying the people. What we are doing is exposing SPA’s anti-election motives. The behavior of government itself is anti-people and anti-Madhes.

If your party does not contest the election, how do you visualize the future scenario?

Our party’s aim is to maintain national integrity of the country. We are not separatists. At a time when people of Madhes are so frustrated from the rulers of Kathmandu for completely ignoring them, our aim is to raise their concern and voice in peaceful manner. One must be clear that our party is not a separatist party.

But, your party leaders have been demanding One Madhes One Province with its own judiciary, executive and legislature and with right to self-determination. Don’t they indicate towards demand for a separate state?

Since the government has already agreed to have federal structure in Nepal and Interim Constitution has already endorsed federalism, in this sense, Terai will have separate legislature, judiciary and executive. This is the basic requirement for federalism. We have been demanding autonomy for federal state. Although SPA is trying to show that our party is a separatist party, we have been demanding our right that is already explicitly declared by the constitution.

Then what about right to self determination. What do you mean by it?

We are clear in this regard. We want right to self determination within the limits of United Nations Resolution. That means we want right to rule in terai and complete autonomy as per UN’s human rights resolution.

How would you address the issues if terai decides to separate from Nepal under the right to self determination?

All the people living in terai and Madhes understand that they will not benefit by declaring themselves as independent state. Madhesi people will have advantage to be in a federal state under Nepal as it is viable. What we want is end of the oppression and discrimination against the people of Madhes.

There are dozens of parties and groups in Madhes. How do you guarantee that all other parties will accept the demand of your party and participate in the election?

No other parties have put demands like us. Madhesi Janadhikar Forum is waging struggle demanding to fulfill their 22 points agreement signed with the government. Since our 11-point demands have tried to address almost all the major concerns of Madhes, other groups will accept it.

In the past, political leaders from Madhes used to argue that distribution of citizenship certificate to all Madhesis will settle all the problems of Madhes. That has not happened. What is the guarantee that other parties will not come up with new demands even if your party’s demands are accepted by the government?

After making certain amendment in the laws, people from all parts of Nepal including terai secured citizenship certificates. But, our demands are related to political rights, which have been accepted in the interim constitution. Once the government addresses our demands, most of the problems of Madhes will be addressed.

Similar demands are also coming from hill and mountain regions bordering with Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. How do you look at it?

Since the interim constitution has accepted Nepal as a federal, republican state, it is natural for them to make demands for federal structures. We must be prepared for federal structure.

You have been talking about the need to bring armed groups to talks. Is it possible?

If the government sincerely shows its commitments, there is possibility to bring these armed group in negotiating table. We have our own experiences of bringing the armed rebels to the mainstream as Maoists have joined the political mainstream by signing 12-points agreement with seven parties. Same thing is possible in terai but what is required is sincere commitment of three major constituents of seven party alliance.

Do you see any role for UN or third party to start the negotiation?

I don’t think there is any need for UN involvement. We have modality and capability to solve the problems on our own. The process of negotiations will depend on how government will respond and how flexible it will be towards the demands of rebel groups.

It is said that you party is dominated by leaders from upper class from terai. How can you claim that you will accommodate all communities in terai?

Our membership is diverse and there are all kinds of people in our party. Our party has accommodated almost all groups like Yadav, Muslims, Dalits and ethnic groups.

But, there are upper class people at leadership?

Since our party is in the formation stage, we will make our party inclusive gradually.

Along with the spurt of violent activities with separatist demands, scholars from Nepal’s northern neighbor have started expressing their concerns. How do you look at it?

When a neighboring country is burning, it is natural for other neighbors to show their concern. It is human reaction as everybody wants peace and stability in their neighborhood. Since China is Nepal’s another neighbor, it is natural for them to express their concern when there is such disturbances here.



Entry filed under: Articles.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ramesh  |  February 3, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Hi all Madheshi friends,
    I just request you ask Mr Shukla some queations:
    1.) He is Pro-Royal politician and has taken post when Gyanendra has taken power by “coup” and wanted to take country in 17 th century Feudalism, but not Federalism with autonomous Madhesh.
    2.)He has gone with Mahanta because he feels that Royal party will not be able to give him ministerial post in coming days of Nepali politics.
    3.) If anything will be not favour of Madheshi politics in Nepal in future, he will immediatle go to his”parents” home= To Royalists.


  • 2. Nepali  |  February 3, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Never think of Single Madhesh= Its Utopia
    Never think of Autonomous Madhesh=Its War
    There will be only single sovereign Nepal and nothing less.

  • 3. ram  |  February 5, 2008 at 7:03 am

    It is a political game. When Girija was in power during royal regime, he had resigned because of no taking action against maoist means killings the maoist by Royal Nepal Army. Now he is a good frient of Prachanda and Baburam who had been tagged as terrorist by his own party.

  • 4. ram  |  February 5, 2008 at 7:05 am

    But the sovereignity will pay the madhes and madhesi instead of faction.

  • 5. Dr Ramesh  |  February 5, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Madhesi ho , Aba ta Pugyo:

    Cadres of the Jantantric Terai Mukti Morcha-Jwala Singh faction have shot dead a guard at a community forest project in Sarlahi district Thursday morning.
    Security guard Karna Bahadur Biswokarma was shot murdered while he was guarding tower inside at the Sagarnath Community Forest Project at Gaurishankhar VDC at around 10 am, police said.

    Biswokarma, 21, hailed from one of the oppressed communities of the country

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