RAM KUMAR KAMAT
JANAKPUR: Rajendra Mahato-led Sadbhawana Party (SP) has decided to reserve 33 per cent seats in all its bodies for non-Madhesis, particularly for people of hilly origin.
The party, which has been criticised for being a Madhesi-only outfit, has adopted a new statute to set aside 33 per cent seats for non-Madhesis, 33 per cent for indigenous nationalities, 17 per cent for dalits, 8.5 per cent for Muslims and 8.5 per cent for others, in all its bodies –– from regional working committee to central working committee.
According to new statute, adopted during the party’s on-going general convention, 50 per cent of positions in the party would be filled through election and the rest through nomination by the party chair.
The party convention representatives are set to elect Sadbhawana’s new central working committee tomorrow. Mahato is expected to be re-elected party chairman.
As per the new provisions, 50 per cent of the seats, to be filled through election, would be decided through proportional election system, and the rest through first-past-the-post system.
Earlier today, when convention representatives were discussing the proposed statute behind closed doors, some of the participants are learnt to have argued that the people of hilly origin were privileged enough and there was no need to set aside positions for them in a Madhesi-dominated party like Sadbhawana.
“We are of the view that some hilly people belong to marginalised groups. If we are to do justice to them, we need to reserve seats in our party,” said party General Secretary Manish Kumar Suman. In the closed door sessions almost everybody spoke of the need for reservation within the party structures, said party sources.
Mahato-led Sadbhawana has already expanded its base to 25 hilly districts and aims to do so in all 75 districts soon. “Everyone spoke of the need to set aside positions for hilly people in the party. The only difference was about the percentage,” said Suman. The new statute also adopted a proposal that would provide more powers to active members of the party to choose general convention representatives.
“In the past, there was not much difference between active and non-active members. The new provisions are to encourage active members,” Suman added.
Convention representatives today paid special tribute to Sadbhwana’s founder President late Gajendra Narayan Singh. The legendary ‘Gajju Babu’, as he was known in the political circles, had established Nepal Sadbhawana Parishad in the early 80s in reaction to Harka Bahadur Gurung’s Madhes-bashing report on internal migration.
There are at least three political parties, each named Sadbhawana, competing to cash in on the legacy of Gajju Babu.
During the convention, recorded messages were played repeatedly that said the party wanted to have both Nepali and Hindi recognised as official languages (language of government communication) at the centre.