Strike, demos part of Madhesi alliance pressure tactics
KATHMANDU, May 2: A cross-party alliance of Madhesi lawmakers on Tuesday announced a series of protests, including a general strike to "exert pressure" on political parties to address Madhesi demands in the new constitution and promulgate it within the May 27deadline.
"We decided on the need for struggle from both the parliament and the streets as we could not get the Madhesi agendas addressed in the past four years," said Upendra Yadav elaborating on the two-week long protests starting May 6.
He further said the alliance did not see any possibility of their concerns being addressed by major political parties.
The alliance has termed the protests as "Madhesh awareness program" and said it will organize interaction in Tarai cities of Biratnagar, Janakpur and Bhairahawa on May 6. Similar program are to be held in Birgunj and Nepalgunj on May 8 and in Kathmandu on May 11.
The alliance leaders told a press conference they would organize torch rallies and gatherings in all the headquarters of Tarai districts on May 17. It has called a Tarai general strike for May 15 and 16.
The alliance said it has identified 14 issues it wants addressed in the new constitution. It said there should be autonomous region within autonomous states where a majority of a single ethnic group resides. In addition it also wants reservations where peoples of marginalized, endangered and minority groups could dwell.
Similarly, the alliance has demanded a provision in the constitution guaranteeing a high-level commission for inclusion and 33 percent seats for women in all state mechanisms.
It further said that there should be guarantee of sixty percent of seats for proportional representation and forty percent for the first past the post electoral system and sought recognition of the Muslims in the constitution.
Yadav threatened to reject any state restructuring that did not guarantee autonomous Madhesh state.
When asked how a Madhesh state was possible in Tarai where Tharus want a Tharuhat state, senior leader of MPRF-Democratic Sharat Singh Bhandari claimed that Tharu and Madhesi leaders have agreed on an undivided Tarai.
“They (Tharu leaders) call it Tharuhat while we call it Madhes. Call it whatever, but what we want is undivided Tarai,” Bhandari stated.