Jitendra Narayan Dev
Member of the parliament and leader of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Loktantrik.
Q: You are in the government whereas other Tarai based parties are in agitation. You claim that the constitution was promulgated with a two thirds majority. Then why are the other Tarai based parties continuing the agitation?
A: Technically speaking it’s a 2/3 majority but if one looks at it politically the four major parties –Nepali Congress, UML, Maoist and Madesh based parties — have been the powerhouse since the beginning of the twelve point agreement. The three powerful parties combined together to get a 2/3 majority and declare the constitution by ignoring other Madeshi, Janjati and identity seeking parties and communities.
Q: People say that this constitution is based on social inclusion and social proportion representation and apparently due to this you have become a force. Isn’t it?
A: Politically speaking your question is very interesting and meaningful to our party and the whole of the political society. All the gains from the people’s movement should have been included in the constitution as like in the interim constitution. For example,in the interim constitution there was a provision of proportional and inclusive representation in the parliament. The 43 laws make this point clear. But in the new constitution the word ‘proportional’ was lost and only social inclusion was included and that is why our party raised voice against this. Another issue in the interim constitution is regarding defining the electoral constituencies which should be based on the population and this population based electoral constituencies were allocated for two elections of the Constituent Assembly but the new constitution is silent regarding this matter. Madesh which has 51 per cent of Nepal’s population should have 84 seats but at present Madesh has only 59 seats and so we have lost 15 seats. Another issue is regarding the citizenship. It was stated in the interim constitution that any naturalized citizen after having worked for 10 years in the country would be eligible for any post. Whereas in the new constitution a naturalize citizen is not eligible for 11 different posts. The position of our party regarding this matter is that there are two types of naturalized citizenship. One is when a person has lived in the country for more than 15 years and the other is when one gets the citizenship through marriage. We believe that it is unjust to exclude such citizens from the above 11 posts. Therefore, the pro-Madesh parties are still agitating regarding this issue.
Q. The main issue of the Tarai based parties regarding citizenship has already been solved. What other issues need to be addressed yet?
A: I am also one of the parliamentarians who has remained inside the parliament and worked for the constitution. I was the coordinator of the definition and introductory sub-committee which was part of the constitution drafting committee in the Constituent Assembly. The issue regarding citizenship was part of this committee. I have done a lot of works regarding citizenship and we have been able to include the issue of citizenship in the new constitution after a big struggle. I feel that we have made a huge progress on the issue regarding citizenship. Detailed works have been done regarding citizenship in the constitution of 2047 B.S as well.
Q. You mentioned that in Tarai, the electoral constituencies are not according to the population and it is not socially inclusive and proportional and some Tarai based parties are still agitating whereas at present there are 117 parliamentarians of Madhesi origin and only 16 of the parliamentarians of Madhesi origin arein agitation.This shows that 101 Madeshi parliamentarians are for the constitution and you are one of those still agitating therefore the Nepalese population would like to know as to why they are still agitating!
A. This is a very good question. This is the beauty as well as the weakness of the Parliamentarian system. Election is money and muscles. In South Asia there is no due respect for the votes of the people. Election is not only political but a lot of criminal activities are involved as well. In the election, parties cater to ethnic slogans, miss-utilization of the police and the miss-use of money and wealth. The numbers you’ve mentioned is due to the division of the pro-Madesh parties. In the real sense the number of electoral seats for Madesh has decreased but there is no significant difference in the number of parliamentarians of Madeshi origin. If one looks analytically at the history of Nepal from 2007 B.S the results of the elections are not according to the vote of the people but through peaceful agitation. The present parliamentarians of Madeshi origin cast their votes for either congress or UML during the recent voting. But the fact is the agitation has been going on for the past four months. All these parliamentarians went to Madesh and supported the agitation and they even stated that the demands of the Madeshiswere right. Therefore, we should try to solve this psychological division as well as the state of political inequality as soon as possible.
Q. Why are the Tarai based parties politicizing only the issues of Madeshis? Can’t these parties carry national issues?
A: Whatever you have mentioned are only rumours spread by our opposition. The general public falsely seem to think that people like Bijay Kumar Gachadar, Mahanta Thakur, RajendraMahato and UpendraYadav are alike and put them in the same basket, and this type of thinking is wrong. Secondly we have not been able to explain to the people about what we are and who we are. We are not a regional party. If we were a regional party then how could Dr Subodh Kumar Pokhrel, Dr BaburamPokhrel and Gita Rana be members of this party? Thirdly, during the recent election to the parliament we have contested for all the 234 seats as well as the 334 social inclusion seats. Therefore, our party ‘Forum loktantric’ has become a national party since the election for the second CA.
Q. You say that you are a national party but only speak of the rights and development of the Tarai and Tarai people and if we look at the Nepalese from the mountainous region and Karnali, one can see that they do not have the rights and development of the present day Tarai. Why don’t you party highlight the issues of these Nepalese people?
A: Recently we had our general assembly in Biratnagar. We had a representation of chairman of our party from 62 districts of Nepal. This shows that we had representation not only from 20 Tarai districts but from all the mountainous and hilly region as well. We have been constantly raising other ethnical and regional issues as well. Let us share the budget and give 51% to Tarai and 49% to the other parts. We have stated that this will be a budget of equal sharing.