Plain Politics – Prachanda`s protests

April 4, 2008 at 4:18 pm 1 comment

Plain Politics – Prachanda`s protests

– By Aditi Phadnis

The Maoist chief insists only rigging will defeat his party in the next elections.

Till some years ago, before the Electronic Voting Machine era of elections, when counting of votes went on interminably, round after round, the surest sign of impending defeat was when politicians would begin yelling that the elections had been rigged. A winner would never say the election had been unfair, only a loser.

A strong flavor of that era comes through in the statements made by Pushpakamal Dahal aka Prachanda, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) about the elections to Parliament and a Constituent Assembly in Nepal, due on April 10.

Speaking at a public meeting at Morang, around 300 km from capital Kathmandu, Prachanda said last week that his party’s defeat in the elections would be “unacceptable”. The Maoists have so much support, he said, that the party’s defeat could only be caused by conspiracies hatched by “national and international reactionary forces”. In other words, if the people didn’t vote for the Maoists, they’d better watch out. And if the Maoists were defeated, India would be to blame.

This seems a bit rich coming from the chairman of a party that has 83 seats in the 303-seat Parliament – just about a quarter of the total.

And there are a plethora of issues the Maoists should worry about. Their lack of traction in the Terai (plains) in Nepal is the biggest.

Terai is a problem for all parties, not just the Maoists. But the fact that the Madhesis have taken up arms – that has so far been a Maoist prerogative – suggests there are deeper problems.

Twenty-two districts in Nepal are occupied by Madhesis who settled in the southern plains of Nepal, battling malaria and clearing forests to claim fertile land. Cheek by jowl with India, property and family knit the community inextricably with India. According to the 2001 Nepal census, they comprise 57 per cent of the population. More akin to Indian culture, they speak Maithili, Bhojpuri and Avadhi. They live with Tharu tribals in the mid- and far-western districts of Nepal. A majority of them are Hindu, though the Muslim population is growing. The Pahade – those who live in the mountains – consider the Madhesis an affront to Nepal’s ethnic identity. They are seen as collaborators who forced the Nepalese to cede Sikkim, Garhwal and parts of Kumaon to the British as part of the Treaty of Segowli (1816) because Madhesi landlords helped the British effort. As Nepal prides itself on never having been anyone’s colony, this defeat is a bitter fact of history for which every Nepali holds the Madhesis squarely responsible, whether it is the Maoists or the Nepali Congress.

The Madhesis consider themselves Nepalese residents but are angry that Nepal has consistently denied them their due. Hindi teaching in schools was banned by King Mahendra. Many Madhesis live in Nepal but don’t have citizenship or the right to own property. India will have nothing to do with them, although they consider themselves Indian by birth.

But more than 50 per cent of Nepal’s GDP comes from Madhes. Nepal’s biggest road, the East West Highway, runs through Madhes. An armed insurrection in this region is bad news because communication links are so good it will be impossible to control militants.

Madhesi militants are sui generis. They have banded together under Jwala Singh, as opposed to the relatively peaceful movement spearheaded by the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Madhesi People’s Rights Forum) or MJF or MPRF, led by former Maoist leader Upendra Yadav. There is no love lost between them and the Maoists and they are indifferent to demands that Nepal repudiate monarchy and become a Republic.

It is in Madhes that the Maoists will face their biggest challenge – and they are getting ready for that defeat, which will then be visited on India’s head.

The hill Nepalese are not worried about the Maoists. They can deal with them appropriately. Some sections of the population, especially women, even think the Maoist movement is the best thing that’s happened to them because of the ban on drinking that Maoists enforce on the countryside from time to time. Extortion by the Young Communists League (YCL) continues but all it needs is village-level organisation to end it.

But the Nepalese have two big fears: one, the growth of Islamic movements in the countryside; and two, the ethnic powderkeg that the Madhesis represent.

The April 10 elections are to decide the complexion of Parliament. This body will convert itself into a Constituent Assembly and write the constitution of Republican Nepal. If the Madhesis are not given their due or if the Maoists are seen as obstructing/preventing the elections, it could make for an explosive situation in one of India’s strategically most important neighbours. For the Maoists, it is their credibility that’s at stake. For the Madhesis, it is their very existence.

source::http://www.business-standard.com/common/news_article.php?leftnm=lmnu5&subLeft=&autono=319065&tab=r

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Entry filed under: Articles.

UN OHCHR – Human rights violations Report of Terai Protest Feb 2008 निर्वाचनमा जातीयता

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. P.C.mUNDHRA  |  April 5, 2008 at 4:57 am

    tHE PLIGHT OF THE MADHESI AND DESCRIMINATION METED OUT TO THEM IS SIMILAR IN SIKKIM AS THIE FOLLOWING BRIEF HISTORY OF SIKKIM WILL SHOW.

    Recreation of the Saga of atrocities on Kashmiri Pundits in Sikkim.

    The finance act proposes to make income tax payable in Sikkim for all those without Sikkim subject status thus depriving ethnic Indians living there for a hundred years of their legitimate rights because they have not been granted Sikkim subject status simply because of racial discrimination and bias in receiving and processing their applications.

    What is this Sikkim subject qualification and will it create another” Oppressed Kashmir Pundit “scenario.

    History.

    The Sikkim subject list consisted of people who the erstwhile Chogyal recognized for the purpose of voting in the erstwhile kingdom. This list was promulgated to keep the voting restricted in a manner to help keep the Bhutia /Lepcha community, to which the Chogyal belonged, in power .This was imperative for the ruler in the face of ever increasing Nepalese immigration from both Nepal and Darjeeling district .In fact the Bhutia/Lepcha votes were given extra value to ensure that the erstwhile National Party promoted by the Chogyal retained ethnic power.

    The first Chief Minister L.D. Kazi of ethnic Sikkimese roots lasted only a single term and in the second election Nar Bahadur Bhandari seized power by engineering defections from the “Rising sun “party of Shri Ram Chandra Poudyal a predominantly Nepali leader and a hero of the struggle against the Chogyal’s unpopular regime.

    In this way the Nepalese came to power for the first time but realized soon that they could never enjoy the true fruits of majority democratic power until they controlled the seats reserved for the Bhutia/ Lepcha community.

    In consequence a movement headed by N.B. Bhandari, the erstwhile Chief Minister, headed for New Delhi and persuaded the Central Government to give a one time waiver and include 70,000 Nepalese in the “Sikkim Subject” Register. This consisted of more than 25% of the total vote and consisted of a very selective list of people from only the Nepali community and made specifically for the purpose of retaining and promoting political power for this community. No other communities were included in this list which was based solely on racial considerations and they were given Sikkim Subject Status and the power to vote and this ensured that they even controlled by Proxy the reserved seats given by the constitution to the Bhutia /Lepcha population to help ensure their identity. As a result the Nepalese de facto gained control of and will always control all 31 seats of 32 in the Sikkim Legislature.

    There were many other people from other communities like Bihari, Punjabi, Marwari, Muslim and even many Nepalis of Darjeeling origin (known as WGY) who met all and more of any criteria that were required but they were specifically not included in the list as these groups individually or collectively were perceived at that time to be a vote bloc which would

    1. Vote against any anti-India legislation ( which views Chief Minister, N.B. Bhandari secretly espoused with his “Return Kingdom Sikkim” political platform) and under which he initially won the elections against L.D. Kazi ,who was the supreme leader of the Revolution against the Chogyal’s autocratic rule and

    2. Some could possibly also vote with The Bhutia/Lepcha community to add to their numbers in a situation to reduce the brute Nepali majority which could be used to smother legitimate minority aspirations.

    The Second Bhandari electoral victory around 83/84 saw him come to power with a brute majority commanding 31 out of 32 MLA’s in the Assembly. However, this victory was soured by the single opposition winner from cosmopolitan Gangtok, the Capital town constituency , from where Independent Balchand Sarda of Marwari decent fought and won as an Independent candidate against a very strong Mrs. Bhandari the wife of the all triumphant anti Indian Chief Minister. (Ironically the advisors of L.D. Kazi the routed ruling Chief Minister had felt that fielding Balchand could disturb Nepali sentiment and put all other contestants at risk because of a perceived Nepali ire at such a move by the ruling party.)

    In fact Balchand Sarda and family with a hundred years of history in Sikkim is now being deprived of Sikkimese identity and being discriminated against when people of very recent arrival into Sikkim are being given this subject status. In fact till date no political party is willing to espouse the cause of this minority community of less than 1% of the population who face a fate akin to the Kashmiri Pundits.

    However, the granting of “Sikkim subject status” to individual candidates continued and still continues unabated being awarded to many applicants from the Bhutia /Lepcha and Nepali community from either Nepal or Darjeeling District who have either bought land in Sikkim or claimed imagined decent from old Sikkim resident families.

    In fact depending on which party was in power at the time “subject status” application of various people of different ethnic backgrounds have succeeded. Thus when a Bhutia friendly administration reigned even Tibetan Refugees have illegally been granted “status” in the bid to increase their numbers and vice versa when a Nepali friendly administration is in power all sorts of recent entrants to Sikkim have been granted this status from even Nepal. Many of these successful applicants are of very doubtful antecedents and historical veracity as both Nepalese Nationals and Tibetan refugees once officially accepted generate a very destabilizing influence in the corridors of power because of their sympathies either for the erstwhile Chogyal’s Regime or for a Nepalese state that they secretly desire.

    The minority communities not having political protection and living in an atmosphere of a heavy communal divide have continuously been decimated and discriminated against as a group —–irrespective of their history in Sikkim or their length of stay. The least protection that the Finance minister can give is to ensure that the Sikkim subject status is granted fairly to all who deserve it under open guidelines which are publicly made available and enforceable without fear or favour or a Kashmiri pundit is waiting to happen.

    This policy and atmosphere of blatant communalism is further expounded by the very recent blatantly unconstitutional bill in the Sikkim assembly proposing to enact a law by which all jobs in the state of Sikkim whether in the private or public sector are to be reserved for “Sikkimese” i.e. “Sikkim Subject Holders” which means that now even children of people of Sikkim who have been residing in Sikkim for over a hundred years are not eligible for jobs even in the private sector in the state. All “Indians” have historically always been barred from Government jobs and this discrimination continues to date even after 33 years of joining the Indian Union.

    Similarly the state has a very aggressive policy of barring even petty business ventures in Sikkim by requiring impossible conditions to be met by any new petty business applicant from outside the state. The municipal authorities working directly under the guidance of the Urban development department looks specifically at the race and origin of applicants before processing any applications. The erstwhile Municipal Corporation has been superseded, and not reinstated for more than 20 years, thus effectively depriving people of Indian origin (who are mostly conglomerated around towns) of any say in the democratic functioning of the state in the one place where their voice might count for a little.

    Even Nepalese who led the fight to defeat the Chogyal’s repressive government by active participation in the movement were excluded from the Sikkim Subject status which “status” was one of the main reasons for which people risked life and limb in the movement. Today these Indian Nepalese from Darjeeling who seek opportunities are also discriminated against and will one day be forced to start a movement for equality under the constitution. This will in time lead to the demand for a Nepalese state with Darjeeling District seceding from Bengal and joining Sikkim to form a more viable state.

    In fact all sorts of constitutional immoralities are been committed in Sikkim today and it is time that the Central Authorities established the rule of the constitution without fear or favour as envisaged by the founding fathers instead of encouraging dissidence from India and all things Indian which , will if not arrested firmly, lead to another Kashmir like situation demanding separation, throwing out Legitimate Indians, just as the Kashmiri Pundits were thrown out because the central government made exactly this mistake in History by pampering a border area to create a Frankenstein.

    Jai Hind.

    Martyr to the cause

    Pryag Chand Mundhra;Gangtok Bazaar;Gangtok ;SIKKIM.

    Epilogue ADDENDUM.

    1.

    In this land of Bharat we are seriously disturbed when Sharad Pawar claims citizenship rights by birth for becoming Prime Minister but in Sikkim an Indian Citizen born there for three generation cannot get rights which are being given freely to first generation Nepali citizens and even Tibetan Refugees.

    Apart from the illegality of it this is an abhorrent insult to Indian Citizens which even the British did not inflict.

    2.

    The Latest Frankenstein theory making the rounds of Katmandu, Gangtok and Darjeeling is of an independent Gorkha state expanding to join with the ethnically secure northern areas of Nepal as a Pure Pan Nepal state of purely Nepalese ethnicity separated from the huge ethnically impure populations of southern Nepal and Doars area which will serve as a buffer state between India and Nepal.

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People Celebrating faguwa (Holi), with the fun of music, quite popular among Terai people. Holi is celebrated each year on the eve of falgun purnima Faguwa (Holi) Celebration

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