Kathmandu: Muddying the waters further, a prominent Left leader here on Tuesday charged India with “bullying” Nepal using various Nepali political or underground outfits as military forces against the landlocked Himalayan nation.
“India is playing a very dangerous game against Nepal that will have far-reaching ramifications,” UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ warned while addressing a gathering here of the party’s journalist-wing.
Prachanda, who led a 10-year-long Maoist insurgency in Nepal’s western regions from 1996 to 2006, accused India of opening up political and military fronts against the Himalayan nation.
The chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist), who has served less than nine months as the country’s prime minister, has earlier criticised New Delhi’s approach to Nepal and has more recently alleged India’s hand in the ongoing political agitation in Nepal’s southern plains where over 55 people have died during the last four months.
He said agitating Madhesi leaders like Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party president Mahantha Thakur and Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party-Nepal chief Upendra Yadav were “working at the behest of India” as its (India’s) political wing, and C.K. Raut and Jai Krishna Goit were working as the “military wing”.
C.K. Raut, PhD, is a computer scientist, author, and political activist who has been actively involved in demanding a separate state for the Madhesi people of Nepal. He has been placed under house-arrest by the Nepal government since April last year.
Jai Krishna Goit is the founder of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha which advocates creation of a separate Madhes state for Madhesi peoples in Nepal’s Terai region.
“India is playing a very dangerous game against Nepal that will have far-reaching ramifications. Please do not be surprised that Thakur, Yadav, Raut and Goit are mobilised from the same power centre,” said Prachanda without naming India.
“But we will not let India’s gameplan succeed in Nepal,” said the Left leader, adding that the Nepal government was trying to seek a peaceful end to the more than four-month-old Madhesi agitation.
Prachanda is prone to being a loose cannon and has been known for his often outlandish claims.
On Monday too, he had alleged that attempts were underway to make Nepal “another Syria or East Pakistan” in the guise of the Madhesi movement.
“People in Madhes have fought in many movements and many revolutions. But attempts are underway to snatch them from us,” he alleged.
Urging his party leaders to stay together against such attempts, Prachanda said: “Some people do not want to see Nepal as a unified nation.”
For more than four months, the plains of the Nepal Terai have been simmering with Morcha-led protests against the country’s new Constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 20.
The Morcha has expressed dissatisfaction over the content of the new Constitution, including demarcation of the federal units, and called for an inclusive Constitution and citizenship.
The four major constituents of the Madhesi Morcha are: the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party with Mahanta Thakur as president; the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal headed by Upendra Yadav; the Sadbhawana Party with Rajendra Mahto as president; and the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party-Nepal headed by Mahendra Yadav.
Over 55 people, including agitators and police personnel, have been killed during the four months of the Madhesi agitation.
Nepal’s Terai region stretches from the Mechi river in the east to the Mahakali river in the west and comprises Madhes in its eastern part and the tribal-dominated Tharuhat in the western region. It has traditionally suffered immense discrimination from the Kathmandu-centric ruling elite that predominantly comprises the Brahmins (Bahuns) and Chhetris of the Nepal hills.
The major agitation demand is for the formation of two provinces in the Nepali Terai — the Madhes extending from the Mechi river in the east to the Narayani river in mid-western Nepal and Tharuhat pradesh from the Narayani to the Mahakali river in the west.
The Madhesi protestors are demanding, among others, a redrawing of the boundaries of the provinces in the Himalayan nation as proposed in the new Constitution; and restoration of rights granted to Madhesis in the interim constitution of 2007 which the new charter has snatched away.
They also want representation in Parliament on the basis of population — the Nepal Terai has almost 51 percent of the country’s population yet gets only one-third of seats in Parliament — and proportional representation in government jobs.