Madhesis fear parties in bid to defer federalism


Madhesis have been angrily reacting to the draft constitution for ‘containing discriminatory provisions against Madhesis’. There are no signs that their anger would dissipate soon.

Reactions received from Janakpur, Birgunj, Gaur and Rajbiraj show that Madhesis are mainly concerned about draft constitution’s provision on citizenship, federalism, proportional representation and election constituencies.

Political analyst Chandra Kishore, who travelled from Parsa to Morang on Monday and Tuesday told THT over phone from Birgunj that Madhesis could not accept constitution that barred naturalised citizens from reaching the top posts.

The ‘and’ provision of the citizenship clause that requires a person wishing to get citizenship by descent to prove that both his/her parents are Nepali citizenship would affect Madhesis’ relations of bread and kinship with Indians.

According to Chandra Kishore, Madhesis want a complete federal constitution which gives full autonomy to their state(s). The draft constitution states that the boundaries of eight states would be fixed after the constitution is promulgated.

Former vice-president of the Nepal Bar Association Surendra Kumar Mahato said Madhesis feared that the major parties would not effect federalism after the constitution was promulgated.

“Draft constitution does not say when Federal Commission would be formed. It only states that the commission would submit its report in six months. The major parties are not in favour of breaking districts, VDCs and municipalities and, therefore, Madhesis believe that the major parties are just trying to postpone federalism,” he added.

Advocate Dipendra Jha said the draft constitution proposed to give the states only the powers of the district development committees,” he added.

Madhesis wanted their proportional inclusion and lateral entry ensured in all state organs, said Chandra Kishore.

Prof Bhogendra Jha of Janakpur said the Interim Constitution guaranteed proportional representation of marginalised communities but the draft constitution omitted the word ‘proportional,’ which was a ploy to cheat Madhesis.

Chandra Kishore said many Madhesis shared kinship with people on the other side of the border and if ‘and’ provision was retained that could discourage Madhesis from having marital relations with Indians and could thus affect the overall relations between the two countries.

Ram Ashish Yadav, a resident of Laxmipur Bagewa, Dhanusha, asked, “Should not the draft say that there shall be election constituencies in Madhes on the basis of population?”

Nepali Congress MP Ram Krishna Yadav said there was widespread dissatisfaction in Madhes over the draft constitution.

Nityanand Jha, a resident of Matsari VDC Ward No 3, Rautahat, said Madhesis were angry because the citizenship clause of the draft constitution would make Madhesis second class citizens. “This provision will only fuel tension in the country,” he added.

THT scribe asked nine residents of Rautahat district their opinion on the constitution out of which four said they were not concerned about it and five said there was discriminatory provision against Madhesis in the draft.

THT’s Rajbiraj correspondent Vyas Shankar Upadhyay said federalism, citizenship and proportional representation were the main concerns of the local population. “Locals say Madhesis are not being treated as equal citizens because their number is negligible in state organs and they do not hold higher posts,” Upadhyay added.

In the recent weeks, Madhesi civil society members have intensified their efforts to sensitise Madhesis on the issues of draft constitution and Madhesis are increasingly taking part in such awareness programmes.

(With inputs from Brij Kumar Yadav and Prabhat Kumar Jha).

Other concerns

• Madhesis cannot accept constitution that bars naturalised citizens from reaching the top posts

• Draft constitution does not say when Federal Commission would be formed

• Interim Constitution guaranteed proportional representation of marginalised communities but the draft constitution has omitted the word ‘proportional’