Kathmandu, January 6:

Senior Madhesi leaders, including the ministers, today said Madhesi people want the right to self-governance where they have been living for centuries.

They said the centralised-state did not listen to ‘silent cry’ of the Madhesis, who have been raising their voices for “national identity and recognition” within the state.

Addressing a talk programme at the Reporters’ Club, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperative and senior Nepali Congress leader Mahantha Thakur said the Madhesis did not demand anything but a “self-rule” in their own “home”. “Let’s go to the Madhes and listen to what they have to say, and, then we can address their problems,” Minister Thakur said, adding that the attention of the state had been drawn to the concerns of the Madhesis only after they started a “violent cry”. “We, the people of Madhes, do not want anything but the right to self-governance in our own land,” he said. He added that there was no military solution to genuine demands raised by the people treated as second-class citizens within the country.

Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies and general secretary of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi) Hridayesh Tripathi said the people across the country took to the streets during the Jana Andolan II to restructure the centralised state.

Tripathi said there should be a “meaningful election system” for a “meaningful constituent assembly”. Delimitations of the 205 constituencies must be done in accordance with the distribution of the population of cultural and geographical similarities; the state must be restructured. He lamented that the interim constitution did not mention anything about “federalism”.

He warned that CA would be meaningless if its election was held without restructuring the electoral system. He said: “What we believe is that the CA must be able to address even the possibility of armed insurgency in the future.”

Jitendra Dev of the CPN-UML said the Madhesi movement was associated with their “identity” and “recognition”. He said the Madhesis had been suffering from racial discrimination since the country’s unification. He said it was late King Mahendra who “injected” anti-Madhesi sentiments in the mindset of the people of hill origin and cemented a feeling that the Madhesis were migrants.