ISSN 2330-717X

Nepal: Madhesi Politics In A Mess – OpEd


By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.

It has been the curse of the Madhesis that there has been no unity among various political groups.  Individual Political leaders have been more after positions and power and have never been sincere in getting some justice to the Madhesis who are in a majority in most of the southern districts of Nepal.  Recent developments have been no exception.

There are two major Madhesi political groups in Nepal.  One was the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum, a party which later merged with the Baburam Bhattarai’ Naya Shakthi to form a new Group named as Samajbadi Party. The other that is equally  strong in influence and geographic spread is  a cluster of all other groups which have merged and  named itself  Rashtriya Janata Party.

  The two Groups  are running the government in Province number 2 with the Chief minister coming from the Samajbadi party. So far, the coalition has continued despite strong differences among themselves both individually and collectively and it was expected that it would fight together in the elections for the vacancies in the National Assembly by the end of this month.

The RJP leaders first approached the Samajbadi party to fight jointly in the National Assembly elections but were summarily rejected by the Samajbadi Party Chief Upendra Yadav.  They then made a deal with the Ruling Party, the NCP to contest the elections jointly!  This despite the fact that the Ruling Party had made no move at all for the constitutional amendments!  It is said that they have been promised the post of the Deputy Speaker after the elections! Their move was made more to retain their constituencies for which an alliance was necessary.

 The leader of the Samajwadi party Upendra Yadav who had supported the Nepal Communist Party on a flimsy promise by PM Oli on two points relating to constitutional amendments, joined the Government last May. He even got the post of the Deputy Prime Minister which was done by Oli more to keep him in good humour as it was clear even then that he was never for any Constitutional amendments relating to the demands of the Madhesis.

Upendra Yadav continued to stick on with the Government and with the ministerial posts despite being humiliated frequently. When his portfolio was changed without any prior consultations he weakly protested though he had no intention of quitting the Government! 

Despite the calls made by his Partymen and including a recent suggestion of his colleague Baburam Bhattarai, Upendra Yadav continued to be glued in his seat in the hope that Oli will somehow help him out.  But why should Oli concede at all when he had an absolute majority on his own in the Government?

Matters came to a head when Upendra Yadav made a proposal for a formation of a committee to study the issue of Constitutional amendment, revision, implementation et. on 24th of December.  This was flatly rejected by Oli and on 25th September Upendra Yadav had no alternative but to withdraw support of his party to the Government and resign from the Ministerial posts along with his colleague Istiyak Rai. 

The next day Upendra Yadav along with his two other leaders Baburam Bhattarai and Rajendra Shrestha met the opposition leader and head of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba and offered an “alliance” in the Parliament and fight the National Assembly Elections jointly.  Deuba’s response was non-committal.

Upendra Yadav by clinging on to the chair of Deputy Prime Minister and his party’s support to the Government led by NCP so long has in the words of an analyst,  has lost on all three grounds as a political party- political line, public opinion and the party’s ideological base.

The party’s statement after withdrawal of support and resignations that they will now focus on strengthening itself to provide an alternative to the Ruling Party- the NCP is only laughable.  At any rate, in the near future, Oli and his party will continue to remain dominant and it looks that the Constitutional amendments the Madhesis were looking forward to, may not happen at all.

With the recent developments, one view expressed by many is that the coalition government in Province No. 2 led by Samajbodi party and supported by the other Madhesi group the RJP may be in jeopardy.

It is hoped that the Madhesi leaders will have some sense in continuing the partnership in running Province No 2.  It is the only Government that is not run by the Ruling Party- the NCP that provides some stability and resistance to Oli’s Government’s intrusions in matters that relate purely to the Provinces under the Constitution.  

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SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

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