'If development is ensured, the battle for political rights will be successful automatically'
RAJBIRAJ, Dec 18: Yogendra Jha, 70, has an interesting political experience. Jha, a local of Tilathi, Saptari, was with the Nepal Congress then when, while protesting against the then Panchayat regime, he was arrested and put in jail for months.
Since then, he has always been a keen observer of the political developments in the country. He calls the political movements in Madhes a genuine fight for identity and rights. However, now, with the country going federal, he feels that the political goal has been achieved. “Now, the only agenda of the people here is development and prosperity,” he asserts, “If you bring development and prosperity, there is simply no other problem. Every problem will be solved automatically. Political, social, and human rights - all will be ensured.”
However, he is not much impressed by the activities and performance of the political parties over the years. He notes that the leaders representing Madhes or even the 'national' leaders have hoodwinked the people and treated the country as secondary.
“There was a time when I was really for Madhes-centered politics. But gradually it dawned on me that each and every party, each and every leader was more interested in creating their political space rather than being worried about the people,” he said. “They always make fake promises. I got fed up with their vested interests and fragmented efforts,” he added.
Phrases like political rights, identity and representation have actually prevented Madhes from treading on the path of development, he believes. He says that he is not against identity or diversity. However, now we have had enough of rights, but no development, he lamented.
“After the movement of April 2006, there was no need to fight for rights anymore. We needed to focus on development. But some selfish politicians always wanted to create space for themselves and so people had to suffer a lot,” he commented. “Even to secure our rights, we needed to expedite development. But see the level of corruption here - do our leaders speak against it?” the elderly man fumed.
He blames the selfishness and short-sightedness of the Madhesi leaders for their miserable performance in the second Constituent Assembly election. He suggests that selfless politics alone will serve the interest of Madhes and the country in general.
Madhes-based political analyst Khushilal Mandal thinks no differently. Except for development and prosperity, there is no agenda left for Madhes now, he says. “Now you see our leaders are fighting for the post of chief minister. Both Rastriya Janata Party Nepal and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal want their leader to become the chief minister. How can we expect development when they show such a mean attitude?” he questioned. He added that Madhes is not going to see prosperity until and unless the leaders of Madhes broaden their perspectives on what to do ahead.
He stressed that the focus of Madhes politics should now be just development. “With this, the battle for political rights will be easily won,” he noted.
Than Singh Bhanshali, a civil society leader based in Rajbiraj put it little differently. He stated that the people definitely want development but they also want the long fight for the political rights to conclude now. “The people do not want to see any more protests here on the streets. Therefore, they have given their votes to the Madhes-based parties so that the latter do the needful in parliament to address Madhes issues and put an end to the problem forever. They now want development and want the way cleared for it,” he explained.