Struggle for constitution amendment will continue: Mahato
December 12, 2017 02:21 AM NPT
Rajendra Mahato, a presidium member of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN), was elected to the central parliament from Dhanusha-3 in the recently held elections. In an interview with Republica correspondent Suresh Yadav, Mahato talks about the election results and future strategies of his party. Excerpts:
How do you feel after being elected in the first parliamentary elections held after the promulgation of the new constitution?
It’s a victory of the Madhes movement. The government tried to foil our street movement by using guns and suppressed the voice of the people in the past. Now, the people have avenged the past governments through the ballot. It’s a victory not only for me but also all Madhesi people.
During the Madhes movement, you visited different districts to encourage the protestors. But during the elections, you were confined to your electoral constituency. How difficult was it to win the election?
This constituency was symbolic for the election and also a challenge for all supporters of the Madhesi cause. Bimalendra Nidhi, a leader of the Nepali Congress, played his role in suppressing the Madhes movement. It’s not just people like Dahal [Pushpa Kamal Dahal], Koirala [Sushil Koirala] and Oli [KP Oli] who promulgated an anti-Madhes constitution. If Nidhi had refused to endorse the faulty constitution, there would have been no need for the Madhesi people to launch the street struggle. Fighting election against such a leader was a big thing as it encouraged all Madhesi candidates.
You say your candidacy against Nidhi is in itself a big thing. How?
Nidhi is a leader who has been winning elections and enjoying state power for the last 25 years. In this period, he has held major ministerial portfolios. But Janakpur is in such a sorry state that you feel like crying for it. I felt during the election how terrified the people here are. Industrialists and businessmen were frightened. The people were terrified by the thinking of being framed in fake cases and being attacked anywhere, anytime if they did not vote Nidhi. My candidacy against such a tyrannical politician indeed encouraged all other Madhesi candidates.
What were the expectations of the people who you met during your election campaigns?
The people asked what the leaders did for the families of those who sacrificed their lives during the movements and why the martyrs’ dreams haven’t been realized. People want that Janakpur becomes a peaceful place and Madhes be developed. The people want me to make Janakpur a beautiful city and work honestly for the Madhesi cause.
What are your plans to address their expectations?
They have asked me to live in Janakpur for its development. I have decided to stay in Janakpur. Janakpur Cigarette Factory has been closed for years and I will work for reviving it. I will develop plans for making Janakpur not only a developed and well-managed city but also the headquarters of Mithila. In the days to come, we will launch simultaneous struggles in parliament and on the streets to press for constitution amendment.
You talked about reviving Janakpur Cigarette Factory. When will that happen?
The election has just concluded. The country will gradually become better-managed now. Constitution amendment will be a major agenda and development issues will be raised effectively. My agenda is to create jobs by operating the cigarette factory. I will take initiatives for the revival of the factory as soon as the new government is formed. Janakpur will be developed as a historical and religious city by exploiting the public land of this area and connecting the nearby towns.
The alliance led by the CPN-UML which doesn’t even want to hear ‘constitution amendment’ is set to rise to power. How will constitution amendment be possible in such a situation?
Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN-UML jointly worked to bring the constitution against Madhes. NC and Maoists have already accepted that the constitution is faulty. Now UML should respect the sentiment of the Madhesi people. All parties should work responsibly to address the demands of Madhesi, Dalit, Muslim and indigenous people as well as disadvantaged communities and empower them. We will create pressure for this from parliament and the streets.
Will your party join the new government?
RJPN and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal have formed a joint front. We will not join the new government immediately. The front will hold discussions on the ways to move the Madhes issues forward. We are thinking of keeping the front intact and move together in the days ahead.