SAPTARI, Sept 5: With the third phase of local elections now just around the corner, political parties in Province-2 are busy wooing voters.
But the parties seem least interested to help the flood victims in Saptari, whose votes could be crucial in determining which candidates will win the elections.
In Mainakaderi settlement of Tirhut Rural Municipality, there are over a hundred displaced victims who are still living under tarpaulins. The plights of over 500 victims of 85 families can be easily observed from there. Many of the victims are forced to live with their cattle under the makeshift tents. The victims neither have suitable place, nor do they have sufficient food and medicines.
Not just the disastrous floods and landslides, the searing heat has also been equally problematic for the homeless victims. Small children, adults and elderly alike are forced to bear the scorching heat. Likewise, they also have deep fear of snakes and scorpions among other poisonous insects.
The flood victims, who are living displaced life since the last three weeks after the catastrophic floods, have been venting their ire against the political leaders, parties and the government.
“Let's not talk about political parties, all of them are the same. They do nothing except make promises they can't keep and cheat people,” said Birakshya Mukhiya, one of the flood victims. “If they cannot help the people even on the eve of the elections, what could we expect after the election?” he questioned.
Last month's floods washed away Mukhiya's two houses and one shed. His lands also have been eroded by the disaster. Questioning slack response of political leaders, he said it is the duty of those leaders to draw the attention of the government to their plights. “However, they are totally unconcerned. I don't know how they are expecting votes when they aren't helpful to the voters at the time of need.”
Local flood victims are venting their ire more on Madhes-based political parties like Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) and Loktantrik Forum than the big three parties Nepali Congress (NC), CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN UML.
Locals say the leaders of RJPN and FSFN, who during the Madhes protest, had knocked doors of the families of the deceased victims distributing Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 and offered to provide Rs 5 million for the deceased, have not even reached the flood-hit areas of Saptari yet. Those very leaders have now become hated figures in the eyes of the flood victims.
“During the protests, they urged the Madhesi sons and daughters to give up their life. But when we are in need now, they only care about fulfilling the formalities by releasing press statements and doing nothing else,” said another victim, Rashi Lal Mukhiya of Sakaspura.
“We get hurt by those with whom we have bigger expectations,” Laxman Ram, a displaced local, said in a disappointed tone. “Madhes-based parties make big promises about rights of people living in Madhes. It's such an irony considering their meek response toward our plights.”
Floods victims have accused the leaders of shedding crocodiles' tears. They have accused CPN (Maoist Center) and other parties of spreading false sympathy to the families of Madhes war causalities, but doing nothing when their lands are being inundated by floods. They have accused the politicians for being two-faced.
“We will vote this time with enthusiasm. But we'll vote based on the candidates' capabilities rather than their political affiliation,” said Aanandi Mukhiya, a flood victim of Mainakaderi. “We have been victimized due to our failure to elect able leaders. Now we have learnt our lesson.”