INTERNATIONAL

Veteran communist elected Nepal PM

Mr. Oli is a known opponent of the rights of the people of Terai. We will intensify our protests against his premiership- Rajendra Mahato, Madhesi front leader

Mr. Oli is a known opponent of the rights of the people of Terai. We will intensify our protests against his premiership- Rajendra Mahato, Madhesi front leader  

olitical turbulence in Nepal appears to be far from over despite the election of veteran communist leader K.P. Sharma Oli on Sunday as the country’s first Prime Minister under the newly introduced constitutional system.

Speaking to The Hindu from Janakpur, Rajendra Mahato, the leader of Nepal Sadbhavna Party (the leading constituent of the Madhesi front), lashed out at Mr. Oli for his alleged “anti-Terai” bias. “Mr. Oli is a known opponent of the rights of the people of Terai. We will intensify our protests in twenty districts of the Terai region protesting his premiership.”

In a tense election, Mr. Oli — of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) — secured 338 votes out of a total of 598. He defeated incumbent Prime Minister Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress. 

Nail-biting election

The election had its nail-biting moments when the Madhesi parties, which had earlier boycotted the proceedings, rushed back into the Parliament to block the election of Mr. Oli. But at the last moment, some Madhesi lawmakers broke ranks with the pro-blockade leaders of their front and voted for Mr. Oli.

 The upset Madhesi leadership has termed the veteran communist’s election a hasty action that should not have taken place without first addressing the anxiety of the Madhesh region. “Madhesi leaders in the Parliament have been under continuous physical and verbal attack over the last few days prior to the actual voting inside the Parliament on October 10,” Mr. Mahato said.

 Mr. Oli, meanwhile, received a congratulatory phone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  India received emissaries in the past week from the new Nepal PM, who tried to convince that once in power he would be willing to address New Delhi’s concerns about the blockade. Officials have told The Hindu that India conveyed to Mr. Oli that it wished to see progress in talks between the Madhesi parties and the government of Nepal, and constitutional amendments that address Madhesi grievances.

 On the ground, however, intimidation and violence against Madhesi leaders allegedly continue. Mr. Mahato told The Hindu that many of his fellow leaders have been intimidated in Kathmandu over the last few days. “Mobs have been stoning my house for the last several days we have been saved from firebombs by the presence of the police. It is common knowledge that Madhesi leaders are being targeted for demanding their rights under the new Nepali Constitution.”

Mr. Mahato, who is leading protests in several districts, has been holding out in Janakpuri. He said he was committed to keep the blockade on till Kathmandu gives in.

 But Nepali diplomatic sources have told The Hindu that if the situation persists, it is going to jeopardise the already fragile situation.

“The new Prime Minister has taken over and the immediate issue on his agenda is to ensure clear supply lines for the essential goods like kerosene. Already a dialogue committee has been created between the government and the Madhesi parties, which addresses India’s official concerns. We shall request the Madhesi parties to at least make a temporary opening in the blockade due to the Vijaya Dashami festival ahead,” Nepal’s Ambassador to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyay, told The Hindu



Mr. Oli is a known opponent of the rights of the people of Terai. We will intensify our protests against his premiership

- Rajendra Mahato, Madhesi front leader



Recommended for you