HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Riding on the fact that parties cannot issue whip to their lawmakers when it comes to issues related to the constitution, CA members representing Madhesi, indigenous, Dalit and other marginalised communities have formed a joint front, injecting fears into the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.
The move follows NC and UML’s refusal to go for single ethnic identity-based pradeshes, as demanded by the Unified CPN-Maoist and United Democratic Madhesi Front. Thirty-five CA members from UCPN-M, NC, UML, UDMF and other fringe parties today jointly issued a press release vouchsafing to press for single ethnic identity-based federalism along the lines of the reports presented by CA’s thematic committee on State Restructuring and Distribution of Power and State Restructuring Commission.
Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, Rajendra Mahato (UDMF), Upendra Yadav (MJF-Nepal), Suresh Ale Magar (UCPN-M), Prithvi Subba Gurung (CPN-UML), Pari Thapa (CPN-United), Tilak Thapa (CPN-ML, Socialist), Arjun Rai (Rastriya Janashakti Party) and Rukmini Chaudhary (Federal Democratic National Forum) are the ones who engineered today’s move.
The new initiative is a result of the realisation on the part of these CA members that they were on the same plank when it came to their concerns and that they could achieve what they want only by forming an alliance against what they said the ‘ruling class’.
UML lawmaker Gurung told reporters at Singha Durbar that the CA members from marginalised communities would cross the floor if the issues related to federalism were put to vote, in a clear sign that NC and UML ultimately have to fall in line. The latest move, it seems, is certainly going to make NC and UML uneasy. “They (NC and UML) are worried. They know they cannot punish their lawmakers even if they crossed the floor,” said Ale Magar. If the CA members from the marginalised communities unite and the UCPN-M and UDMF stand together, which is very likely, a simple majority in the CA will be a cakewalk. “This will put moral pressure on NC and UML. If all Madhesi, Aadivasi/ Janjati lawmakers and UCPN-M and UDMF stand together, we can even muster a two-thirds majority to ratify the constitution,” said Ale Magar.
Asked whether they will be able to get their kind of federalism adopted by the two-thirds of votes in the CA, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party leader Hridayesh Tripathi said, “But of course. There are 200 Madhesi lawmakers and as many representing indigenous nationalities who will certainly vote for ‘genuine federalism’.” Another TMDP leader Brishesh Chandra Lal said today’s unity has given more vim and vigour to their campaign for ‘genuine federalism’.
Kiran Gurung, Pasang Sherpa, Rana Dhoj Limbu,Bhagwati Chaudhari and Dal Bahadur Rana (UML), Jipchhiring Lama Sherpa (NC), Amik Sherchan, Barsha Man Pun, Dev Gurung, Prem Tamang and Hari Raj Khewa (UCPN-M) are other CA members who have expressed their solidarity.
The lawmakers had laid the foundation of this move about a year ago in Godawari. However, the process got momentum only a month ago and it culminated in a joint force today.
Pradip Gyawali of UML, which is going to be perturbed by the move, said lawmakers should raise their voices within the party if they have grievances. “Such defiance (on the part of lawmakers) weakens political parties and invites anarchy. A political party has to take care of the entire country,” he added.