Prime Minster KP Oli (left) and CK Raut, the chief of the Alliance for Independent Madhesh, shake hands after the signing of an 11-point agreement at Rastriya Sabha Griha, Friday. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa is seated in the middle. Following the agreement, Raut will shun his secessionist agenda and join mainstream politics. Photo: Keshab Thoker/Republica
Raut's brother had initiated talks a day after release from jail on SC order
KATHMANDU, March 8: Secessionist campaigner CK Raut has renounced the movement he has been leading, striking an 11-point agreement with the government on Friday.
Raut, who is coordinator of the Independent Madhes Alliance, announced that he was joining mainstream politics and exchanged the agreement papers with Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, at a podium he shared with Prime Minister KP Oli in a jam-packed Rastriya Sabhagriha hall.
In a dramatic turn of events , the agreement was made public just a day after the Supreme Court ordered the release of Raut, who had been in jail for the last four months.
In the agreement, Raut has accepted Nepal as an indivisible, sovereign and independent country and agreed to stand in the defense of national integrity. Both the government and Raut have agreed to address the grievances of Tarai-Madhes and accept the mandate of democratic elections.
Jaykant Raut, older brother to CK Raut, had initiated the talks with the government two months ago and also closely facilitated it , following suggestions from family and friends that the secessionist movement should be given up.
According to sources, Raut's followers within the alliance were also raising their voice in favor of giving up the separatist campaign .
“In view of the suggestions from various quarters, I initiated talks between the government-formed talks team and my brother who was in jail,” Jaykant Raut told Republica on Friday after the announcement. The older Raut had also become worried after the government put his brother behind bars.
Jaykant Raut first approached Som Prasad Pandey, coordinator of the government's talks team. The latter arranged a meeting with the home secretary, the home minister and then with some senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). Raut assigned spokesperson of his alliance Chandan Singh to negotiate with the government alongside his brother.
NCP senior leaders Bishnu Paudel, Subas Nembang and the prime minister's political advisor Bishnu Rimal took the initiation for negations between Raut's representatives and Prime Minister K P Oli.
“We held over a dozen rounds of talks with NCP leaders and Home Ministry officials over two months. Direct talks with Prime Minister Oli started only a month ago,” said the older Raut.
Sources said Raut's release from jail just a day before the agreement with the government was no mere coincidence.
Following the deal, Raut has agreed to renounce any activity against the constitution and to not produce and distribute any materials related to his campaign.
In response, the government has agreed to treat Raut and the leaders of his campaign as a democratic political force and release members of his organization from different jails.
According to the sources, hundreds of secessionist campaigners had come together under the Raut-led movement which started three years ago. Raut, a one-time scientist, had started the secessionist movement when the Constituent Assembly (CA) was in the final stages of promulgating the new constitution in 2015.
“The issue of secession has ended from today. The time has now come for development and good governance ,” Prime Minister Oli said sharing his excitement at the announcement function. “This agreement is a step forward in the course of development.” Oli praised Raut for showing extraordinary decision-making ability in renouncing a movement that had become concerning for the entire country.
Raut for his part hailed the agreement as historic . “The way our movement has safe-landed peacefully is historic,” he said. He said they were equally worried that the movement would go out of their control just as the government was equally worried over the possible consequences.
“The government has agreed to address grievances through the democratic mandate of the people. We must have the people's mandate to achieve what we need and the constitution has paved the ground for this,” Raut added.
Raut also claimed that his movement was peaceful and influenced by the teachings of non-violence of Lord Buddha and Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Those involved in negotiations Jaykant Raut and Chandan Singh Som Prasad Pandey Home minister, home secretary NCP leaders Bishnu Paudel, Subas Nembang, Bishnu Rimal and Prime Minister.