MJF Raising one-Madhes Demand with Gusto

May 5, 2008 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

MJF Raising one-Madhes Demand with Gusto

-Ram Kumar Kamat

Kathmandu, May 5

Bolstered by a good showing in the Constituent Assembly polls, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum has begun pushing for the agenda of One Madhes, One Prades (Province) with renewed vigour.
In an eight-point deal signed with the government, the United Democratic Madhesi Front had made mention of ‘autonomous Madhes’ instead of the term ‘One Madhes, One Prades.’ Many analysts then believed that Madhesi leaders had departed from the vexed agenda of ‘One Madhes’ as it could invite stiff opposition from partners of the seven-party alliance and could even lead to cancellation of the polls.
“Autonomous Madhes itself means One Madhes, One Prades. In India, they do not call ‘One Maharastra’ or ‘One Bengal’, though these are autonomous regions,” Upendra Yadav, coordinator of the MJF, said.
The MJF may never give up ‘One Madhes, One Prades’ demand as it is a catchy slogan that will always garner the support of Madhesi people. This battle of geography could certainly change the status quo and establish Madhesi rule in the Madhes region, but the journey is not easy.
Madhesi parties are emboldened to raise this demand also because they think by winning many seats across Madhes, people have approved their major agenda of autonomy of Madhes with the right to self-determination.
The MJF knows it will be difficult to elect the Madhesi president or PM since the Madhesis are not a majority nationwide; they are in majority in Madhes only. So, there intention is clear: If the Madhesis cannot become PM or president, they can at least be the chief minister or governor in Madhes, provided Madhes is declared an autonomous region.
Madhesi leaders know that an autonomous Madhes can survive on its own. However, this will be a matter of anxiety for Hilly and Himalayan regions as they are largely dependent on the southern plains. Developing infrastructure in those areas will be quite expensive because of difficult terrain. Other parties say the declaration of Madhes as one autonomous region is against the sprit of all Madhesi people as Madhes was never a homogenous region in terms of ethnicity, religion, culture and language.
Beyond this reasoning, there lies a deep worry among such lots: If declared ‘One Prades’, Madhes could gain upper hand over other regions and dominate nation’s politics. The MJF says this argument is a ploy to make the Madhesis a minority community in their own region.
The Tharus of the Madhes, who do not want to be called the Madhesis, are opposing the demand of One Madhes saying they must have their own region. How the MJF will mange the contradictions in Madhes while pushing its agenda is the major question.
“It is not that Tharus do not want to be part of One Madhes; supporters of status quo are spreading this rumour. If Madhes is declared One Prades, Tharus, one of the major ethnic groups, can elect their own regional ruler. If Madhes is fragmented, their dream of seeing their own ruler at the helm of affairs might never materialise,” Yadav said.
Political scientists take up the demand for One Madhes as a bargaining chip.
“They might settle for more units in Madhes, but would not agree for any geographical unit comprising hills and plains,” said political scientist Krishna Pokharel adding that the Madhesi parties chose the word ‘autonomous Madhes’ so that it could be explained either way — one Madhes or more than one Madhes.” Their (Madhes parties’) only worry is that carving out of units comprising hills and southern plains will not put them in a better position.”
The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are undecided on the issue of Madhes as one Prades. The Maoists plan to divide Madhes into several provinces, largely on ethnic and linguistic lines.

source::http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullstory.asp?filename=aFanata0va3qzpca4Ta6ra.axamal&folder=aHaoamW&Name=Home&dtSiteDate=20080505

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Landless in Tarai Lhotshampa, Madhesi, Nepamul

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