A crucial front from Nepal’s Terai plains has decided to pull out of talks for the restructuring of the state and devolution of power, amid a row with the three main parties in the country.
The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of the Terai-based parties with some six dozen lawmakers in the parliament, had been involved in talks with the government and the main opposition Nepali Congress over its demand for a single autonomous Madhes State comprising the 20 districts in the southern plains bordering India.
J.P. Gupta, Chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum — Republic (MJF-R), one of the constituents of the Front, said they are ready to talk on forming a panel of experts on state restructuring, but would not discuss the issue of the setting up of a State Restructuring Committee (SRC) any further.
“We came for the meeting as the leaders of the three parties had assured us an alternative to SRC,” Mr. Gupta was quoted as saying by Nepalnews online.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, UDMF leaders said they will not agree to the formation of SRC and will not further discuss it.
Nepal’s Terai plains are home to about half of the country’s 30 million people, and the residents of the region, are known as Madhesis, who are of Indian ethnic origin.
The pro-Terai parties argue that people in the Madhesi-dominated southern plains have long been treated as second-class citizens in Nepal, where hill-origin elites dominate politics, the security forces and business.
They have demanded greater economic and political rights, including more representation in the State structure.
UDMF comprises of MJF-Republic, MJF-Loktantrik, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP), TMLP-Nepal and Sadbhawana party. They have been demanding for a single autonomous Madhes State comprising of all 20 districts in the Terai.