Madhesi leaders won’t climb down

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Mahanta Thakur, president, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party; Upendra Yadav (right), president, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal; Rajendra Mahato Sadhbawana Party; and Mahendra Rai Yadav (left), president Terai Madhes Sadhbhawana Party during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Sunday.  

Nepal’s agitating leaders from the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF) on Sunday received a warm welcome in Delhi even as they were advised to be more flexible while negotiating with the government in Kathmandu. However, brushing aside India’s advice, Madhesi leaders indicated that they are not in a mood to call off the economic blockade immediately.

The UMDF delegation, consisting of Rajendra Mahato, Upendra Yadav, Mahendra Yadav and Mahant Thakur, representing various political parties of the Madhes region, spent the day discussing the 114-day blockade with Devi Prasad Tripathi of the Nationalist Congress Party, Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (U) and Karan Singh of the Congress.

In the evening, they were joined by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Hyderabad House for a dinner in their honour.

However, the unexpected hardening of stance of the delegation is apparently due to intense pressure from political parties and comments emanating from back home.

A day before the arrival of the UMDF delegation, a few other Madhesi leaders landed in Delhi claiming to be the real representatives of the region, thereby indicating the rising stakes in the Nepal crisis. Indicating the inflexible position of the UMDF, Mr. Mahato told The Hindu that the Front would not soften its attitude toward the government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli despite the “framework agreement” that the Nepal government has prepared after consultation with it. “We will continue our agitation because that is the only way to ensure that Nepal does not deny what is rightfully ours,” he said even as Indian interlocutors urged an end to the crisis due to the growing misery of the impoverished sections of Nepal.

Sources told The Hindu that India sympathises with the demand for rights of the Madhesi people from Kathmandu, but also wishes that reconciliation should be given a chance. But Madhesi sentiment on the ground apparently is anti-reconciliation.

“Entire Madhesi population is watching the UMDF delegation’s movements in Delhi and the delegation’s members will lose legitimacy on their home ground if they strike a compromise with Kathmandu at the bidding of Delhi,” said a Madhesi source accompanying the UMDF delegation.

The Madhesi delegation’s visit apparently was prompted by reports of India’s nod to the “framework agreement” during the latest visit to Delhi by Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Kamal Thapa. But apart from their home base, the UMDF delegation is also under pressure from the Nepali Congress (NC) which has accused UMDF of undermining the authority of Kathmandu by visiting Delhi.

Pradip Giri of the NC told The Hindu that by visiting Delhi, UMDF has introduced a new round of ego-clashes with the leadership of Nepal which has a chance of ruining the “framework agreement.”

The UMDF leaders are expected to hold a press conference on Monday and address public meetings in Delhi where they will explain the reasons behind the hardening position.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 10:24:45 PM |

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