Special Correspondent

They want discrimination against them in Nepal ended

Express dismay over frequent attack on them by Maoists Not sympathetic to any fundamentalist organisation

NEW DELHI: Nepalese people of Indian origin, called Madheshis, have sought the support of Indian political parties in ensuring greater political space in a democratic Nepal and ending the discrimination against them in Government jobs.

Speaking to newspersons at the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) office here, Chairman of the Madheshi People's Rights Forum, Upendra Yadav, said that people of Indian origin constitute half of Nepal's population but only 38 were represented in the dissolved Parliament of 205 seats. In the administration too, their representation was miniscule.

After meeting the NCP leaders, the Forum leaders plan to call on leaders of the Congress, the CPI and the CPI(M) to explain that their movement was free of any communal taint and was solely focussed on granting them adequate representation through a fair seat delimitation exercise. These parties had extended moral and political support to the seven party alliance's movement against the King.

Proper representation

In his interactions, Mr. Yadav will stress on the need for proper representation for Madheshis beginning with the present Constituent Assembly. Seats in Madheshis areas have over one lakh voters whereas several seats dominated by people of Nepalese origin have just 10,000 or fewer voters, leading to an imbalance in representation in Parliament.

The Forum leader said that the movement was not directed against any party and was in support of a Republic and secular Nepal. He expressed dismay over the frequent attacks on them by Maoists who, he claimed, had lost the support of the Madheshis because Maoists had turned a blind eye to their demands after renouncing violence and joining the Government.

Mr. Yadav claimed that the Maoists had surrendered only a fraction of their arms and feared that they could be used to influence the elections. ``That they have not surrendered all their arms is clear from the fact that as against a claimed strength of 37,000 fighters, the arms surrendered are only 3,500. They have been frequently attacking us and in this situation it would be difficult to hold free and fair elections.''

Denying that his Front was in any way linked to the King or fundamentalist parties, Mr. Yadav said he supported an impartial probe into the palace massacre four years ago and punishment to the guilty. He also refuted suggestions about any association with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). ``Not one of our Central Committee members is sympathetic to any fundamentalist organisation. I have addressed meetings in favour of democracy and went to prison during the struggle for democracy. How can I then be a fundamentalist?'' he asked.