UML dissidents vow to fight for single-ethnic federalism
KATHMANDU, July 14: CPN-UML dissident leaders from ethnic and indigenous communities have vowed to continue to fight for single-identity-based federalism despite the party leadership pressing them to stop such a campaign.
Leaders from the ethnic communities suggested to representatives from the indigenous communities gathered at a function in Kathmandu not to shy away from raising the issue just because leaders and people from other communities may accuse the ethnic activists of being communal.
"We mustn´t stop to fight for our rights even if others accuse us of being communal or racial while raising our valid and genuine issues," CPN-UML Vice-Chairman Ashok Rai said at a gathering organized by the valley coordination committee of Federation of Nepal Democratic Indigenous Communities allied to UML.
He was of the view that the leaders from establishment and ruling class always brand the agitating forces with such labels.
"The freedom fighters in 1950 and the democratic forces in 1990 were labeled as anti-social and anti-national elements. So is the case with ethnic communities at present," Rai said at the gathering attended by hundreds of members from ethnic communities. "These days, the leaders from the communities that have been ruling the country for centuries have been disturbed as down-trodden communities have awakened to claim their representation in the states."
Rai is leading the group of dissident UML leaders from ethnic, indigenous and Madhesi communities, demanding that the party stand for the proposal of delineating and naming provinces after single-ethnic identity.
The UML disciplinary commission has sought clarification from the dissident leaders for holding public programs allegedly in contravention with the party´s official decisions and challenging the party policies.
Another key UML leader from the same group, Prithivi Subba Gurung, announced at the gathering that "the ball is now in the court of Balkhu [UML´s head office]" and their next step will depend on the action the party leadership would take in the days to come.
According to Gurung, they want the party to be ready for single-identity-based provinces with mixed names such as Newa-Bagmati. The UML however, has recently decided to stand for multi-identity-based provinces with mixed names such as Newa-Tamangsaling-Bagmati.
"The party is ready to recognize ethnic identity as a basis for delineation and naming of provinces. Now it should go one step ahead and accept our proposal," said Gurung further explaining, "In that case, the number of provinces will increase by two to three and the party should be ready for that."
He clarified that they can continue to work in the UML only if the party stands for the reinstatement of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and make the party organizations more inclusive by ensuring proportional representation of ethnic and indigenous communities in party organs from top to local levels.
Similarly, former UML lawmaker Rijwan Ansari said the top leaders from major political parties committed a serious crime by leading the CA to its demise and it can be corrected only by reinstating the Assembly.
"They didn´t want to promulgate new constitution from the CA because the provisions that were incorporated in the drafts prepared so far were in favor of the oppressed and down-trodden communities," said Ansari.