GEOPOLITICS OF MADHESH: BALLOT OR
BULLET IN THE NEXT CA ELECTION IN NEPAL
A GENERAL SITUATION ANALSYSIS
Raj K Pandey, MBS, MA (Rural Development)
Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, GPO BOX: 19862
Mobile: 977-01-98510 86884
The prime concern of common Nepali people is whether CA elections will be held or not. Who are
the actors for ballot and who for the bullet? What will be the role of the dissatisfied, violent, non-
violent and criminal groups in Madhes, who are repeatedly conducting meetings in Indian soil?
What will be the role of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA), which completed the joint mass meetings
(six in Madhes and one in Kathmandu)? Earlier, eight districts of Tarai and three districts of
Kathmandu valley were regarded as most sensitive districts, but additional four districts in eastern
hills/mountains have been enlisted too.
Even the Ministry for Home Affairs has put one-dozen organizations in terrorist list in Katmandu
alone, namely, Rajdhani (Capital) Army, Nepal Mukti Morcha (Liberation Front), Gorkhaland
Mukti Sena (Liberation Army) also called Tista Kangada, Nepal Ajinger X Samuha (Python X
Group), Nepal Republican Army, National Terrorist Encounter, Trishul Sena Nepal, Deshbhakta
Army Nepal. Others are Rastriya (National) Army Nepal, Save the National Army Nepal, Shahi
Mukti Morcha (Liberation Front), and Kshya Ba NE Samuha1, etc. Will the polls be held in such
an insecure situation? How has the international communities been observing the polls?
General Situation Analysis
Due to lack of common leadership, Madhes exits about 25 groups2: violent; non-violent; criminal;
and dissatisfied group. Most of the violent groups are the splinter of the CPN/Maoist and they are
struggling for a free Madhes that are recognized as "secessionist". Non-violent are launching
Madhes movement for the sake of single Madhes state with autonomy and rights to self-
determination, but called as anti-secessionist groups.
Criminal groups are fishing in the troubled water intensifying the insecurity kidnapping the hill-
and-mountain dwellers along with Maoists in general and businesspersons in the particular. Many
of such criminal professionals are imported either from Bihar or from Utter Pradesh to propagate
not having the CA polls on time with the backing of Hindu fundamentalist, monarchial, and pro-
monarchial forces. The dissatisfied are dissident groups of the legitimated parties and the leaders
who are mostly leading unrest in Madhes for their power, prestige and property causalities.
The recent meeting on January 17, 2008 amongst Jwala Singh of Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha
(JTMM), Goit of JTMM, Mahanta Thakur of TMLP, Upendra Yadav of Madhesi Janadhikar
Forum (MJF), Rajendra Mahato of Sadbhabhana Party (splinter) held in Bihar (India) has formed
an alliance and morally supported the 11-point demands forwarded by Tarai Madhes Loktantrik
Party (TMLP) to GoN on January 3, 2008. The abstract of prime demands are:
January 30, 2008: Jana Aastha.
They are: Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (JTMM-Goit, Jwala Singh and Bisfot Singh factions), Janabadi Ganatantrik
Mukti Morcha, Tarai Cobra (Naagraja), Defense Army, Tarai Army, National Army Nepal, Ulpha Group, Change Nepal, Nepal Gorkha Army and Madhesi
Special Force. Similarly, others are: Madhesi Tigers, Taraibadi, Madhesi Mukti Force, Nepal Janatantrik Party, Madhesi Virus Cleaners, Madhes Mukti Tigers,
Gorkha-Line Mukti Sena Samaj, CPN [Maoist (United Rebellion Front)], Far-Western Revolutionary Party and Chure-Bhawar Ekata Samaj, etc.
• 42 Madhesi campaigners killed during last year's Madhesi movement should be recognized as
martyrs and compensation to be paid to their families;
• the state should provide relief and compensation to the injured/wounded;
• defunct the earlier Commission and form an independent high level judicial Tarai Madhes
• declare the entire Madhes as one state with full autonomy guaranteeing the right to self
• the government should immediately organize meaningful negotiations with the armed and
peaceful groups in Tarai;
• an inclusive Commission should be formed including Madhesi, Dalit, Janajati (nationalities),
Women and others;
• the Special Task Force (STF) should be dismantled for peace and security in Madhes;
• recruitment of Madhesis in proportion to the population in the Army and Police;
• the budget allocation should be based on Human Development Index (HDI), etc.
The main purpose of the meeting was to advance the Madhes Movement in a unified way. They
have vowed to foil the polls unless their demands are fulfilled. They organized strikes and protests
3-day ahead of the CA election meeting of the SPA at Janakpur (central Madhes) scheduled for
January 26, 2008.
Jwala Sing and Goit called for Tarai strike and protest from January 23, 2008; Sanyukta
Madhes Morcha (alliance of Rajendra Mahato and Upendra Yadav) hosted Sarlahi-
Malangwa from January 25, 2008; and TMLP called for Mahottari on January 25-26,
2008. The day before the mass meeting, bombs were blasted in Janakpur amongst tight
security and five bombs were blasted outside the meeting venue while SPA meeting was
conducting at Janakpur. Jaya Prakash Gupta, Co-Convener of MJF, tried to calm the
situation stating that their party is not in favor of violence. Even though, violence, road
blockade and protest shall continuously be resorted until February 4, 2008. However, a
huge crowd gathered for the mass meeting had both fear of insecurity and hope of CA
election that could bring peace, security, prosperity and stable government.
Nevertheless, more than 5-dozen commoners were wounded, including the Chief District
Officer (CDO), because of bomb blasts during last SPA mass meeting held in a tight
security at Birgunj (western Madhes) on January 30, 2008. The recent UN Security
Council meeting, which has endorsed to expand UNMIN's term for 6 months, has also
stated that Madhes situation is worsening. The UNMIN's analysis is becoming true.
The popularity of Upendra Yadav was high during the beginning of Madhes movement last
year. His image has been gradually downsized due to his myopic leadership: First, he
including other violent factions, proposed Ram Raja Prasad Singh (senior communist
leader inhabitant of Madhes) as the President of Free Madhes at Patna of India with tight
security of Indian Security forces, but he declined their proposal of secession straightly.
Second, he was compelled to shrink quite more after the last year's Gaur massacre
nationally and internationally. Third, he used Sujata Koirala, daughter of present Prime
Minister, to maintain his vested political ambition with Girija Koirala, PM became public,
his position further squeezed. Fourth, his tour to USA last year further scaled down. Last,
his shaking hands with Rajendra Mohato diminished his role in Madhes. If we analyze his
past, he was defeated candidate of parliament and district leader of UML, and then he
became independent and later joined at the Maoists. He then became a leader of Madhesis,
but now is trying to hide under the umbrella of Nepali Congress.
The feudal mindset Madhesi leaders from mainstream political parties, who did not give
that much attention on Madhes problems and issues in the past while they were ministers
and so forth, have turned to form political parties/groups. These 'old fashioned' leaders are
trying to become masters of the Madhesi people rather than serving them and their self-
respect, identity, dignity and position, which has resulted in creating obstacles to gain
height of the Madhesi people's liberation struggle or movement. The Madhesi people are
looking for new and dynamics leaders with zest and zeal.
Goit has proposed to negotiate with the government through UN, but the government has
declined stating that it is capable without the UN. The government claims that it has
fulfilled all the demands of the Madhesis, but no Madhesi groups agree with it. The 45% of
strikes and protests along with extrajudicial killings, rape, arson, plunder, loot and
displacement against the government occurred in Tarai (regional, district and area) within a
year. Due to alliance of non-violent group to violent ones, they are loosing their political
character in both land and aboard.
India's role for peace and democratization of Nepal is prominent. The first draft of 12-point
Understanding was in Hindi, which was later signed by SPA and Maoists in New Delhi
translating into Nepali. It had sent its chief of RAW to Nepal to convince the PM for 23-
point agenda. The geo-political landscape of Nepal is such that the PM himself feels proud
to boast his relation with RAW in the past. On June 2006, during the PM's visit, India
committed to provide 16 billion Nepali Rupees for strengthening democracy. Similarly, it
provided 1200 vehicles and 14,000-communication equipment 25 million rupees
equivalent for strengthening peace process in Nepal. It also afforded containers for
disposal of Maoist's and Army's arms. India is ready to resolve the current petroleum
product crisis as well, if Nepal government requests for subsidy.
Madhes (Tarai) problem also heightened due to lack of petro-products, which has been to
be supplied from India. According to Times of India (Jan 26, 2008), Indian Ambassador to
Nepal, Shiv Shanker Mukharjee, said that the allegations that India is fuelling "crisis" in
Nepal's violence-hit southern Tarai region was baseless during a function to mark India's
59th Republic Day. He further said that during his series of meetings with various political
leaders, he found them to be affirmative about resolving, among other issues, the crisis in
Tarai - where the Madhesi community is demanding more rights amidst agitations by
various armed and non-armed groups. He added that New Delhi would provide all
necessary assistances to Nepal to conduct the CA poll, scheduled in April 10, successfully.
However, people observe India is more in negative terms rather than positive. On Republic
Day, ambassador Mukharjee told the media persons that 99% border disputes have been
resolved, and mere 1% remains, between India and Nepal. Media reportedly quoted that
Indian influence is prevalent after the Popular Movement I (1990); during that period
above 1,000 hectares of Nepali land has been occupied by India. In some Madhes (places),
people sleeping in Nepali land find themselves getting up in Indian Territory when wakes
up. The bilateral meeting on security was held on January 21-23, 2008 at New Delhi, at
which India proposed their troops to station at Sundarijal to build an arsenal for producing
7.62-caliber bullet for 18,000 SLR provided by India to Nepal was rejected by Nepal, and
the meeting was ended inconclusively.
The border between Nepal and India is open and so not only good but also bad affects are
easily penetrable. The criminal terrorism beyond the border has been affecting more to
Nepal. Nepal's police source stated that the most wanted individuals due to criminal
offences in India have migrated to the bordering towns and after acquiring Nepali
citizenship from the cooperation of local political authorities have been venturing in
criminal activities in the country.
The national media, mainly the weekly and fortnightly, stated that the Hindu
fundamentalists in India might have been assisting the armed groups against the CA polls,
so that monarchy could again be erected. The Maoist Supremo stated that the constant
strikes and protests in the Madhes are a well-planned conspiracy aimed to foil the
elections. Particularly indicating to India he said, "Protesting groups are guided by foreign
forces and the royal place."
Although there are more than 70,000 Indian Border Security Force stationed along the
border in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, crime has been on the rise. On the one hand, the Indian
government wishes for peaceful CA polls on time and end the tenure of UNMIN soon,
whereas on the other hand, they have fear that the communists might hold the reign after
the polls. Their common understanding is that the communists would come to power if the
polls are held and if not the country will fall victim to extremism. They might be afraid of
the recent Maoist Central Committee's decision to unwavering strategy for completing the
new democratic revolution whereas mere tactics to Federal Democratic Republic through
the CA polls.
The first date for the polls was postponed due to administrative issues influencing Nepali
Congress whereas the second date was postponed because to issues of nationalities and
republic raised by the Maoists; and the third could be postponed due to Madhes issues. If
CA polls will not be held on time for the third time, there could be People's Revolution led
by new leadership replacing the hegemony of the morally bankrupt political leaders that
could form an Interim Government for polls, which could attain more support from the
Another possibility is that democratic coup – civilian government backed by army, similar
to Bangladesh, and if it happens, the political party leaders could be imprisoned on the
charges of corruption which could strengthen the monarchial forces leading to revival of
monarchy again. The Indian orthodox influential political party-BJP might come to power
through election in India and the republican movement in Nepal could collapse. A few
members of the BJP are soon visiting to Nepal with the agendas of constitutional
Monarchy and declaring Nepal a Hindu Stat to influence the power and politics of Nepal.
Madhesi majority people want CA elections to be held, but some violent and criminal
actors are blasting bombs in order to have their demands and rights fulfilled. Their number
is not very large. From past, the fear and violent politics has been overbearing.
Therefore, there is high possibility that the dream of the majority Madhesi people to
achieve their desires, expectations and rights will be ignored. Besides, Madhes is suffering:
first, they do not have faith in the free, fair and impartial election; secondly, they fear to
reach the polling booths safe; and the third and the last, they regard themselves insecure
from the protesting forces in future if they cast vote.
Nepal's population is 24.5 million, but the CA seats are 601. When there was CA in India,
it had 700 million population, whereas mere 330 CA seats. People expect that the new
constitution will be excellent. However, if the 'same old' leaders with feudal mindset and
empowered through money, muscle and mafia will be in the CA again instead of new
people with mind, how could a new transformed Nepal will be built? How could their
needs and rights will be fulfilled? Because of these 'masters' of the people, not only
Madhes, but many parts in the hills and mountains also are burning.
The voices of mobilization to Nepal Army for the polls have gradually been intensifying
from all corners. Nepali Congress is forefront on it, CPN (UML) is still confusion similar
in the past, but the insurgency strategist Badal of the CPN (Maoist) is in favor of
mobilization of army if the STF could not improve security situation. The STF is not active
as expected earlier due to frustration on them as near and dear of the Minister and other
powerful elites are transferred on abroad and customs for better economic opportunities
and have promoted junior ones. Equally, other voices are also coming out of mobilization
of ex.-combatants along with Nepal Army similar in the Angola, Burundi, Congo,
Cambodia, Mozambique, Sierra Leon etc. All Madhesi factions are against the
mobilization of such armies. If this happens, the country is sure to fall into the trap of
disaster, more chaos and bloodshed than the People's War.
The alliance of the Madhesi separatist and other groups has led to decline in their
influence. The Madhesis wish a democratic, peaceful, prosperous and stable republic
Nepal; they are not in favor of eliminating the Pahades living in Madhes. They also fear
that such actions can bring retaliation to Madhesis living in the cities and towns of the hill
regions. Therefore, they wish the decision by ballot, not the bullet. If the mainstream
political parties want to hold free, fair and impartial ballot, the SPA first appoints officials
to the local governing bodies, which will resolve half of the current problem uniting all of
them and another half through the constructive dialogue. If bullet overtakes on ballot,
Nepal shall intensify the socio-cultural and regional divisions further, inviting more chaos,
bloodshed, devastated economy and possible disintegration of the state itself. Nepal should
learn lesson from multi-ethnic, mixed-culture, linguistic diversities and unitary state
Kenya, who passed through the same state of affairs previously.
Raj K Pandey, MBS, MA
Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, GPO BOX: 19862