Kathmandu, May 6
political and civil society leaders representing the far-western region have rejected the call made by top leaders of three major political parties to call off the indefinite strike in the region.
UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal had made an appeal on Saturday to call off the strike through a joint statement
However, the strike on Sunday saw wider incidents of violence and vandalism in the region. At a corner meeting held in the capital on Sunday, leaders, parliamentarians and civil society leaders from the region said that the movement will not come to an end.
The leaders alleged that the call of the key party top brass to stop the strike was a design to thwart the spontaneous movement of the people. They insisted that the movement will not stop until there is a political decision not to divide the far western region in the name of federal provinces.
The leaders from the far western region warned that next phase of capital-centric movement will be announced on Monday. They alleged that those who are planning to divide the region through federal delineation are anti-nationalist.
The striking leaders said that movement on the streets and in the parliament will continue against the divisive conspiracies.
Nepali Congress leader and lawmaker Ramesh Lekhak said that the plan of dividing the far western region, which is motivated to weaken it, will never materialise.
Some leaders are out to separate Kailali and Kanchanpur districts and make the far western region dependent on the mercy of the centre. The dream of a few to weaken nationalism and make the region dependent on central grants will not come to fruition, Lekhak said.
The government has done nothing after ten days of strike in the region. The government seems to be utterly responsible about the concerns of the region, Lekhak said.
Leaders of the CPN-UML Sher Bahadur Kuwar said that far western region was neglected in the past. The same attitude is continuing today, he said. He said that the movement of the people will not stop until undivided far western region is announced.
UCPN leader and MP Gita Thagunna said that the movement of the region will not stop at the order of particular party leaders. People have rights to protest the move aimed at dividing the people, she said.
Expressing ire against political leaders and solidarity to the movement were civil society leader Sushila Mishra, cultural activist Nanda Krishna Joshi and scholar Yagya Raj Upadhyay.
Meanwhile, the struggle for undivided far-western region has drawn support and protest from different quarters.
The Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) –a main ally of the United Democratic Madhesi Forum (UDMF) – has supported the agitation demanding integrated far-western.
The Forum, which has been sticking to its demand of one Madhes province, took part in the Saturday demonstration by political parties to a great surprise to all.
In this line, Forum (Democratic) leader Madan Raj Bhatta said his party also longed for the integrated far-west while adding that ethnicity-based federalism would not be acceptable to them.
It is not right move to delineate states on ethnic line so that Forum stands in favor of the integrated far-west, he said, expressing commitment to support the struggle.
Nepali Congress including other allies taking part in the struggle have reasoned that integrating the Terai districts of Seti zone including Kailali and Kanchanpur into upper hill will help maintain economic, social, cultural and political balance.
Despite party’s strong voice for the establishment of caste-based provinces, high-level leaders of the UCPN (Maoist) are also supporting this proposition.
However, the Tharu community leaders have argued that the Kailalia and Kanchanpur should be included in Tharuwan province citing high population of Tharu community people there.
They are sticking to a point that the districts , Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur should in no way be disintegrated.
The UCPN (Maoist)-floated idea of including Kailali and Kanchanpur in the Tharuwan province as per their proposal of federating country into 10 provinces has sparked protest in the far-west region.
To the contrary, NC has incorporated the two districts in undivided far-western in its proposal of state-restructuring. Congress has claimed that the proposal of carving out provinces has been made based on identity and capability.
Locals voice their concern that the government has also not made any effort to address general strike and shutdown enforced in the region.
Meanwhile, youths and students associated to different political parties have decided to intensify joint struggle raising the voice for undivided far-west.
They came up with this decision after forming All-party Youths and Students Struggle Committee.
The student unions and organizations including Youth Association, Tarun Dal, Progressive Youth Association, ANNFSU, Nepal Students’ Union and ANNFSU (Fifth) expressed solidarity for the struggle by announcing joint programme.
Meanwhile, the Rastriya Janamorcha Party has announced to not join the struggle announced by the parties for the undivided far-west.
Issuing a press release, Janamorcha said they would not be the part of this agitation accusing the parties of attempting to sideline Janamorcha in the agitation.
Likewise, National Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) has called on all to maintain mutual harmony concerning the issue of federal restructuring of the far-west.
The NEFIN has made it clear that they do not intend to escalate conflict among the interest groups in the name of federal state.