Morcha mulling over starting separate stirJust as the relay hunger strike of the agitating Sanghiya Gathabandhan (Federal Alliance), a coalition of Madhes-based parties and Janajati forces, continues in Khula Manch, some Madhesi parties are considering starting a separate protests in the Tarai.
Just as the relay hunger strike of the agitating Sanghiya Gathabandhan (Federal Alliance), a coalition of Madhes-based parties and Janajati forces, continues in Khula Manch, some Madhesi parties are considering starting a separate protests in the Tarai.
The Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, had joined hands in April with the Janajati forces to make their protest against the constitution stronger, but indications of a rift in the Gathabandhan started to appear when they jointly launched their Kathmandu-centric protest, which they had termed “largely successful”.
The dispute in the Gathabandhan emerged strongly earlier this week after the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party boycotted the planned hunger strike, accusing Upendra Yadav, the coordinator of the Gathabandhan, of bringing protest plans without consulting the other allies. Now, leaders are saying that peaceful protests will be launched under the banner of the SLMM, which had earlier led a five-month-long protest in the Tarai.
After the SLMM decided to join hands with Janajati forces, the protest is currently led by the Gathabandhan. Senior leaders of other Madhes-based parties, including Sadbhawana Party, have also boycotted the hunger strike.
Leaders say the Morcha will launch “independent protest” in the plains without severing ties with the Gathabandhan. “The Morcha has its own existence and political significance. It would not stay idle for long,” said a senior Morcha leader.
Of late, TMLP and Sadbhawana Party leaders have been increasingly wary of Yadav, who has assumed the leadership of the Gathabandhan. They suspect Yadav, who is the chairman of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, is using the Gathabandhan as “a tool to serve his political interest”.
TMLP General Secretary Jitendra Sonal hinted that the Morcha could take some crucial decisions within a few days but stopped short of divulging details. “What you are seeing in Khula Munch is not everything. You need to wait for some more days to know,” said Sonal.
But nonetheless, there is nothing new about dispute among the Madhes-based parties. During the five-month-long protest in the Tarai, Yadav was overshadowed by TMLP Chairman Mahantha Thakur and Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato. But after the SLMM formed an alliance with 22 Janajati groups, Yadav anointed himself as the coordinator, much to the chagrin of other Madhesi leaders. Morcha leaders are also unhappy with the name Sanghiya Gathabandhan as they say it sounds somewhat like Yadav’s party—Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal.
TMLP and Sadbhawana Party have also agreed to raise the issues of “reviving” the Morcha during the next meeting, saying that the Morcha has been eclipsed by the Sanghiya Gathabandhan. Yadav has not only resisted the idea but has also ignored repeated calls for meeting.
When asked, Rajendra Shrestha of SSF-Nepal, denied that there was any dispute in the Gathabandhan.
“Senior leaders of other parties in the Morcha could not come [to the relay hunger strike] due to their personal business,” said Shrestha.
According to Shrestha, the Gathabandhan will soon expand the protest across the country. He said the Gathabandhan was increasingly getting support from civil society, activists, political parties, and the public.