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Madhesis oppose new Nepal rule

Days after Nepal’s political parties put up a united front for the new map of the country, a controversial change in the Nepalese citizenship provisions has fractured its political class. Nepal’s chief Opposition Nepali Congress, and leading figures of Nepal’s plains have opposed the planned changes in the existing citizenship rules that will most notably affect the families in Nepal’s plains also known as the Madhes region where cross-border kinship with India is common.

“We believe these changes will introduce uncertainty and tension in the society and families. Our political block and the Nepali Congress are together in opposing this amendment..” said Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahto speaking over phone from Kathmandu. The issue came to the forefront after the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s Secretariat decided that it will support a seven-year waiting period before foreign women married to Nepali men can acquire Nepali citizenship. Madhesi critics have termed the changes as racially motivated.

The proposal for changing the citizenship rules has been pending before the Nepalese parliament but a decision was not taken to change the Citizenship Act of Nepal. However, last Thursday, the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the parliament asked all parties to come up with a decision in five days.

Under Clause 5.1 of Citizenship Act, foreign women marrying Nepali men are entitled to get citizenship immediately, however that is likely to change in the near future. Saturday’s decision by the Nepal Communist Party’s Secretariat has created heated debate over the privileges that the citizens of Nepal’s Himal region are perceived to enjoy in the Nepali society. Madhesis claim that they are discriminated against in Nepal’s diverse set up.

“We are not asking for equality of naturalised citizenship for the foreign-born men who marry Nepalese women. They stand no chance. At least the foreign women who marry into Nepalese society should be treated fairly,” said Mr. Mahto.

Nepali Congress plans to register a note of dissent in the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee which is likely to support the seven year waiting period before the foreign women can apply for citizenship. Once the Committee supports the change, the Bill is likely to sail through as the Nepal Communist Party enjoys majority in the Parliament.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 12:54:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/madhesis-opposes-new-nepal-rule/article31883935.ece

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