Rock and hard place

February 17, 2008 at 6:32 am 5 comments

Rock and hard place

The Madhes and Pahad differ widely over state restructuring

Perceptions in the Madhes differ from the state restructuring agenda in Kathmandu, and this is one of the reasons for the deepening crisis in the Tarai. As the stalemate continues, the NC may be paying a price in the Tarai for cohabiting with the Maoists in Kathmandu.The Madhes revolt of January 2007, in contrast to the people’s movement of April 2006, was not led by a political party and wasn’t cadre-based. It was fuelled by perceived wrongs and injustices rather than being motivated by an agenda, structure or program. It was popular movement that subsequently began to search for someone to lead it. Eventually, Madhesi figures of various hues tried to give it leadership.

The average Madhesi has a different take on the agenda of state restructuring. Opinion surveys have repeatedly shown an overwhelming number of Madhesis are for Hinduism being the state religion and favour a multiple official language policy. There continues to be relatively more support for retaining the monarchy. They overwhelmingly support turning the unitary state into a federal one.

In contrast, Pahadis have only lukewarm support for federalism. A large proportion of Madhesis like to be identified simultaneously as a Nepali and as Madhesi. This bodes well for national integration, contrary to what many non-Madhesis tend to assume. The category ‘Madhesi’ after all, does not have any political significance on the other side of the border.

Kathmandu has responded to Madhesi concerns by addressing only issues permissible within the ambit of the state restructuring discourse. Other issues such as that of secularism continue to remain non-negotiable.

The animosity towards Kathmandu in the Madhes is in large measure due to the presence of the Maoists in the coalition government where many believe it is the Maoists who call the shots. Unfortunately for the Maoists, many in the Madhes continue to perceive them as alien atheists who are intent on imposing a godless ideology upon the rich religious and cultural traditions of the Tarai. This negative perception was reinforced when the Maoists inducted local criminals into their fold when they expanded rapidly in the Tarai 2000-2005.

The disenchantment with the NC and UML, on the other hand, seems to be motivated by their perceived apathy towards Madhesi grievances. By flirting with the Maoists, the NC and UML seem to have overlooked the deep resentment the Madhesis have towards the Maoists.

The Madhes seems specially aggrieved towards the NC, a party that has historically had a soft-corner for the Tarai. NC leaders empathised with Madhesis, emulating them in their manners, dress, language and provided space for them within the party machinery. Many fondly remember how BP Koirala in 1960 projected Parsu Narayan Choudhary, a Madhesi-Janajati, as the next NC leader and prime minister-in-waiting. Choudhary, as others after him, hit the glass ceiling that prevented Tarai people from ascending the party ranks.

Just like UML cadre deserted en masse to the Maoists in the late 1990s, politicians and cadre have been abandoning the NC to join the new Madhesi front. In the short run this will be a serious setback for the NC in its vote bank as the constituent assembly elections approach. In the longer term, however, this very force could offer possibilities for a democratic front.

Sudhindra Sharma of Interdisciplinary Analysts was part of the team that conducted the Nepal Contemporary Political Situation-V public opinion poll in January 2008.




Entry filed under: Articles.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Himal  |  February 18, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Except six parties, othere are supporting genuine demand of madhesh in pahad also. The self determination to separate the nation can be excluded. And if other points which discrimate and bring tussle among the different ethnic groups kept it in secured even in madhesh, the problems can be solved. The joint effort of madhes with other pahadia ethnic groups shows that madhes wants to stay in Nepal as being Nepali till now. But these leaders worried about their seats only.

  • 2. aAkaR  |  February 18, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    yes,I agree with Dr.Ramesh too.Why to agry with them…..well political leader may be madhesi or may pahade ……….. it’s fact that they are not doing for the people but for their own..So, they raise a non-sense issues like “right of determination” . Hey, do we know , what is आत्मनिर्णयको अधिकार . No we dont………. they have been conveying the message in a wrong way….that’s all.

  • 3. mylifenp  |  February 21, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Namaskar Dr. Ramesh ji ani aAkaR,
    Ramesh Ji, Madhesi samuday andolan ma kina orley? Janaandolan ma sangai sangai hidey ka neta haru le nai hami mathi goli chalauna lagaye!!!!! Ke hamro maang jayej hoina ra. Katiau barsa dekhi hamilai dosro darja ko nagrik sarah byabhahar gariyo. Basic Rights ko lagi pani hamile andolan garnu pariraheko cha. Madhes andolan kunai neta le suru gare ko hoina……Nepal ko aru andolan jasto prpagandized andolan hoina yo!!!!!! Madhesi samuday le afu thichi e ko mahsus gare ra suru bha ko andolan ho yo….Nepal kai itihas ma pahilo saacho Jana andolan ho yo? tara irony andolan ko lakchya chai Basic RIGHTS…..

    Dr Ramesh ji, Yo andoaln kahile yeti thulo hune thiyena….hamilai jabasjasti thichna khoje ko le yo andolan le yo bikral roop liye ko ho.

    I just got news from birgunj…police have injured many people….and looking at the photos i cant help crying. They are my people i get the news from the site that is the news and alas…..nothing is mentioned in the national media….all what we are getting is HOAX. It is this excercise of the central government that comprises of all the unholy PAHADE BAHUN, is pissing the people of Madhes off. I am getting the news from the other side that is the madhesi front…..the spirit is high there and surprise we dont know what we want now!!!!!! we just wanted BASIC RIGHTS tht had been denied to us for ages and we are not ready to accept the status quo. Something must change ….and by god…..sure it will……this time.

    There will be a change this time…..and the point that is worth mentioning is, the government will decide for us. If they keep on supressing this movement this brutally our next wish could be the freedom of Madhes…..and in that case both of us shall be the losers.

  • 4. mylifenp  |  February 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    The above article is mine

    Amit Shah

  • 5. Dr Ramesh  |  February 22, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Amit Shahji
    You are talking about Basic Rights. Can you tell me what Basic rights you Madise dont have in Nepal? Please write pointwise … 1..2..3..4.. etc, then it will be easier for us to discuss.

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