As the local bodies’ election in Province 2 approaches, the Rastriya Janata Party, like other [political] Madheshi parties in Nepal, awaits not just the outcome of polls but also the result of ‘frequent movement’ strategies. If their coin shines, it could be a model for the next general election.
However, their success stories still appear like a song far away from home for a number of reasons. The party today equips almost like a pauper who has spent all his fortune but who clings on grand descriptions. It talks the past glory, of sacrifice, of Madhesh movements, or spearheading the cause of Madhesh.
The party floats new charters in every successive polls or movement, even some kind of wave, unfortunately, it has very little to show against the never-meeting tall promises. It has only progressed backward since 2008 and sinking deeper with every move that it does not make. It was people who kept Madheshi forces alive but the people’s desire no longer seems to be there.
The decline and fall of Madheshi parties is an arresting story written time and again; but this time the party is at the lowest point of its influence in regional politics. It may be noted here is that the Madheshi parties tried to appear in new attire by bringing a substantial change in their nameplate.
In order to ensure a grand success, a group of fringe Madheshi parties agreed to amalgamate (to save themselves from the further loss). Actually, they sensed that they have lost people’s faith and their days are numbered. Then, the charismatic idea (or better to say the single-handed option) came to their mind: Let’s form ‘Rastriya Janata Party’, a national party.
The big question still revolves around the people whether the party can recover or revive its forces, ideas, and energies in the line with its claim. The party faces a structural dilemma on several fronts—organizational weakness, ideological stagnation and shrinking social support. It has a level of organizational structure expanded across the Province-2 which denotes that the party is still regional. At this backdrop, the party should question itself: Can a change of name create a change of destiny?
“They seem to be lost and they do not know about their goals and aspirations. So, every now and then they give conflicting explanation for their move. But in reality, they behave like a headless chicken. As they proclaimed themselves as a crusader of federalism, their first point of concern should be to make sure the establishment of a federal parliament and legislative assemblies, which would have a say in matters connected with the Local Bodies’ elections. Undoubtedly, the Local Bodies’ election is the subject matter of well-defined provincial assembly. They missed terribly on ideological grounds,” opines Sujit Kumar Thakur, an observer of Madhesh politics.
In this light, Rastriya Janata Party, a self-proclaimed Messiah of Madhesh politics, is a group of ideologically confused leaderships. “Neither they have been able to convince their cadres at the local level, nor have they played any pivotal role in nurturing the political ideologies,” adds Thakur.
He further added, “It would not be unjust to term them as a ‘headless chicken’ coming together to achieve utopian dreams which have no connection with realities. In addition to this, a headless chicken can neither make a healthy journey nor has it any importance for the society”.
The parties which protested against the 2015 Constitution, claimed in a self-styled fashion of being a crusader of federalism, played role in imposing trade-embargo along the Indo-Nepal border for months, agitated people to protest against the new statute and it invited violent police action that gunned down more than 40 lives, appealed people to hold fresh political movements, or call for strikes—all was for building pressure on Kathmandu just for the sake of much-taunted ‘federalism’.
In this context, the Madheshi parties should question itself:
- Have their demands been addressed?
- Is there any clear-cut possibility of a constitutional amendment?
- Are you in a position to face the families of martyrs?
- Why should Madheshi people trust you in a broad daylight?
- Are you really a federal democratic republican force?
- Why are you in the ruling alliance? Or, you are habitual of the chair?
On this note, one thing becomes clear beyond any shadow of the doubt that the Madheshi parties don’t have any ideology to stand. “After the overwhelming success of Madhesh movement, the frequent splits led to creating 13 parties (that is, from three to 13).” In addition to it, Rajendra Mahato offered a proportional representation (PR) seat to his better-half. Anil Kumar Jha and Raj Kishore Yadav also made their wives–parliamentarians– through the same channel. Mahanth Thakur made his daughter’s mother-in-law a Member of Parliament. Can their move constitute a part of women empowerment?
What they have shown is their sheer opportunism and hence in the process, they have lost the big way. Arguably, a decade long the political struggle and the sacrifice of more than 100 martyrs have been undermined by the Madheshi force itself. Or, are they following the path of cannibalism who finds joy in killing own people?
Apart from this, Upendra Yadav-led Madheshi People’s Right Forum Nepal, formerly an NGO, appeared as protector of Hindi. In this effect, they unveiled their election manifesto for the first Constituent Assembly election in Hindi. But, the same party’s election manifesto appeared in Nepali in the second Constituent Assembly polls. Similarly, they (that is, all Madheshi parties) used to advocate nation-state theory during movements. And, they pressed for the hardcore agenda of ‘One Madhesh, one province’. Also, they spread a message before the world that Nepal is home to two nationalities, namely Pahadis (people of Hill origin) and Madheshis (people of Madhesh) and emphasizing on the statement: “we are championing nation-state theory.”
In a nutshell, have they succeeded in standing on any of the highly dramatized agenda? Unfortunately, the answer is in the negative sense. One of the celebrated saying bears relevance here. It goes like this “Action speaks louder than the words.” And their actions have failed us.
(The author is a Nepali student of LL.M (Constitutional Law) at Uttaranchal University, Dehradun, India)