Madeshi Morcha to vote for Prachanda, seeks credible political commitment

  • Anil Giri, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Aug 01, 2016 21:16 IST
Demands of Madeshis include declaring as martyrs those killed during their agitation, compensation to their families, free medical treatment for the injured and withdrawal of cases against Madeshi people. (AFP File)

The Samuktya Loktantrik Madeshi Morcha (SLMM) has sought a credible political commitment from Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) ahead of Wednesday’s prime minister election, in which it will vote for leading candidate Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

A nine member task force of the three parties are busy hammering out a new political roadmap  to accommodate demands of SLMM.

A tripartite political deal is likely to be sealed on Tuesday, which will pave the way for Madeshis to vote for Prachanda but will not give them room to join the government, leaders involved in the negotiations told Hindustan Times.

“We will vote for Prachanda but will not join the government,” said Raj Kishor Yadav, chairman of the Forum Ganatantrik. “But we need a credible, written political commitment from the NC and the Maoists to vote for him.”

The SLMM wants to know if the other two parties are ready to revisit the demarcation of the seven provinces, a major source of their discontent.

Besides making the Constitution more inclusive, the SLMM demands dissolution of the Local Body Restructuring Commission and setting up of a new one that can reflect the true spirit of federalism.

“The work of restructuring commission should be stopped immediately,” said Rajendra Mahato, a prominent Madeshi leader. “But don’t think we will join the government. If we get assurance that our grievances will be heard, we will definitely support the government from outside.”

The commission had suggested 565 local units across the nation in the new political and administrative setup, which the SLLM strongly opposed.

The SLLM is demanding that demarcation of the local units be based on population. Over 51% of Nepal’s population live in the southern plain called Madesh or Tarai, and the proposed local units do not match their population ratio.

To protest this, the SLMM had held an agitation since last September. At least 59 people died and hundreds were injured and many traders in the southern plains lost their business due to the prolonged protests.

 Demarcation of the provinces and local bodies is a key issue because local, provincial and central-level elections should be held within the next 18 months. Madesh-based parties are of the view that demarcations should be based primarily on population and not geography.

Other demands of SLMM include declaring as martyrs those killed in the Madeshi agitation, compensation to their families, free medical treatment for the injured and withdrawal of cases against Madeshi people.

They also want formation of a judicial commission to probe the state’s alleged atrocities during the agitation and resolving the issue of citizenship and equal representation of Madeshi people in various state organs. 

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