DHANGADI: With the Far-west agitation entering its fourth consecutive day today with increasing participation from locals, it however did not get any political leadership who would have steered it to make an impact.
So far no political leader has been willing to lead the agitation except for expressing their moral support as leaders of every political party are sharply divided over the campaign.
Even Maoist leaders who had once championed the cause of ethnic states and have recently brought a proposal of the federal model based on ethnicity are at odds over the campaign.
Maoist leader Lekhraj Bhatta has supported the agitation from the beginning. “Seti-Mahakali has its own distinct identity and it should be kept intact while federating the country,” he said, adding that the federal states be carved out keeping in view history, geography, economic infrastructures and social structure. Minority groups, he maintained, should be granted special privileges.
However, seven other leaders of Bhatta’s own party who belonged to the hilly districts of this region are against the ongoing agitation. According to them, keeping the Far-west intact would impede the development of not only the hills but also the Tarai districts – Kanchanpur and Kailali.
UCPN-Maoist Seti-Mahakali Secretary Khagaraj Bhatta has expressed displeasure over the Far-west campaign.
Similarly, most of the UML leaders except for a handful of them are in favour of the campaign. UML leader Bhim Rawal is strong advocate of united Far-west, nonetheless he wanted some special privileges be granted to the Tharus of Seti and Mahakali.
Rawal dismissed media reports saying, “We had not proposed 12 federal states as reported by some newspapers. In fact, we proposed seven-state federal model.” He reiterated: “UML stands for united Far-west region.”
In Congress, however, there appears to be a consensus among its leaders on the state delineation. It has not proposed to keep Kailali and Kanchanpur separate from other districts. “The Far-west should be kept intact, but the minorities should be granted some special privileges,” said NC leader Ramesh Lekhak.
The Far-west campaign received greater participation from the Congress leaders. Earlier, NC lawmakers representing the region had submitted a memorandum to the prime minister for a united Far-west. Leaders like Sher Bahadur Deuba, Araju Deuba, Ramesh Lekhak and others have been demanding that Far-west be kept intact.
Meanwhile, Tharu leaders of all the parties have, however, stood against the ongoing Far-west campaign. They demand that Kailali and Kanchanpur be branched out from the seven hilly districts of the region under the new federal set-up and be granted a state with ethnic identity. “We cannot accept a united Far-west,” said a Tharu leader of Kailali.