CK Lal Explains About Madhesh Andolan (on News24)

On September 11, 2015, News24 Nepal published a recorded interview with Nepal’s eminent political analyst CK Lal. He is known for using an intelligent analysis, direct approach and sarcasm in his writings. During the interview on News24 channel talk-show, ‘Real Face’, he answered several questions related to the the agenda of marginalized Madheshis.

Reflections on CK Lal’s interview

“If a person is insane, he can be cured, but if ‘time’ goes insane, the whole of humanity comes under attack”, Mr. C.K. Lal paraphrased Voltaire to explain the situation of Nepal. When leaders start comparing death of protesters as fruits falling from tree, it is an indication that sensitivity, respect for human life and basic decency to respect the dead has been lost in the contemporary political discourse. These were the opening remarks of Mr. C. K. Lal, a well-known political commentator, known for his insightful columns on realpolitik of Nepal.

The recorded video of the interview in Nepali, “देश र मधेशको पछिल्लो अवस्थाबारे निर्मम् तर मार्मिक अन्तरवार्ता – REAL FACE” can be viewed below, courtesy of News24 Youtube channel.

We have included a transcript of the major highlights of his interview.

Questions and Answers with CK Lal

Q: How would you describe the current situation of Nepal?
A: The time has gone mad; no one is concerned with anyone else. If one gets to do what he wants to do, he does not care about anybody else. That is the exact situation of Nepal.

Q: How do you view the current constitution writing process?
A: While half of the Nepal is burning, the ritual of constitution writing is being observed. This is not a constitution writing ‘process’, but merely a ‘ritual’ being performed to bring a set of document, rather than a constitution which represents the aspirations of progressive Nepal.

Q: What are the reasons of the protest of Madhesh and why is Kathmandu silent?
A: Kathmandu has always been cold, there’s no fire in here, and the heat of the fire anywhere else, does not reach here. Although the fire has been there since last 60 years and it never goes out, some sparks always remains to periodically inflame when Kathmandu provokes. This is the 60 years old dissatisfaction of Madheshi that Nepal does not considers it as a Nepali, Nepal considers Madhesh as internal colony.

[To prove his point that Kathmandu is cold despite the fire in Terai, see our infographic that shows the 40 deaths in Nepal amid constitution drafting process, all of them in Terai (south of Nepal) and three in Surkhet . None of the deaths have occurred near Kathmandu.]

Q: Despite the government calling for dialogues for multiple times, why isn’t the Madhesi Morcha willing to sit for dialogue?
A: An agitating individual or society does not talk about principles. The call for dialogues was just another ritual. If you read the appeal for talks, it lacks seriousness. Neither the appeal has showed any remorse for the martyred, nor has it explained why it failed to respect previous agreements. It does not even promise readiness to discuss and accommodate the demands. The appeal is in fact, an arrogant notice that we (establishment) are making the constitution, if you want to join, you can join. In 2007, an agreement between the then PM Mr. Girija Pd. Koirala and Madhesh was signed, again in February 2008, previous agreement was scrapped and a new agreement was signed. And, today, both of the agreements have been scrapped. Those agreements which were implemented, even those are being rolled back in the new constitution. Now, on the name of talks, the establishment is asking the agitating parties to come and agree to all the disagreements, they are fighting against. He aptly summarized that this was not a call for talk, but a threat.

[An advocate of Supreme Court, Dip Jha also explains in another interview why the dialogue between the ruling parties and Madhesi Morcha failed. He argues that the environment was not conducive for dialogue.]

Q: What are the demands of Madhesh?
A: The demands of Madhesh are the demands of any common citizens in any country of the world. And those are, Nationality should be defined such as no one feels left behind, inclusion should be such that no one is left behind, constitution should be such that everyone feels ownership, and state structures should be such that diverse faces could be seen. These are the simple demands common citizen of any nation. Demands of Madhesh are nothing more than that.

Q: Even if you see the faces, the President and Veep, they are Madheshi now, hasn’t it given respect to Madhesh?
A: Although the President and Veep hail from Madhesi community, this is nothing more than Tokenism. Structural discrimination we observe in our nation-state cannot be ignored on the basis of this tokenism. In fact, even you have invited me as a token. The media has either downplayed or shut down the news from the protesters. Just because you invited one Madhesi to present his views does not mean that the media of Nepal has given space to the protestors. Even the reports about the protesters have been ignored by the news media.

[The President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav submitted a letter to Constituent Assembly Speaker Subhash Nembang and Nepali PM Sushil Koirala to make the constitution inclusive by integrating voices of agitating parties based in Madhesh. Both speaker Nembang and PM Koirala scoffed at his proposal and have decided to move forward with constitution approval process. This happened a few days after CK Lal argued that a Madhesi President is simply a token.]

Q: Has the lack of co-ordination between the Madheshi leaders of Pahadi political parties, and the Madheshi parties divided the agendas of Madhesh?
A: It happens everywhere as there is always difference in opinion. Madhesi leaders in Pahadi party must be pitching in their agendas internally, but at the end they must go with the official decision of the party. They have their own problem; I believe that they must be doing what is needful at their level best. Because, if there is democracy in this country, then they will have to go back to the Madhesh to get elected again, Pahad will not elect them anyway. In fact, Madhesh has always accommodated Pahadi leaders. Many Pahadi leaders have won elections from Madhesh, but till now not one single Madhesi leader have ever won any election from Pahad. Even in party election of UML party, well known Madhesi leaders like Lal Babu Pandit and Raghuvir Mahaseth lost. It seems that Paharis don’t vote for Madhesis, doesn’t it? But Madhesis have always gives vote to Pahadi leaders. In fact, the current Prime-Minister Sushil Koirala (Congress), Ex-PM Madhav Kumar Nepal (UML), Ex-PM Puspa Kamal Dahal (Maoist) all has won election from Madhesh.

Q: Finally, thank you for giving us time and having a meaningful dialogue when the time has gone ‘insane’. Your last word..
A: I would like to add, “Jab taktha giraye jainge, aaur taaj uchhale jainge (the throne will be dismantled, and then tiara will be tossed.)” In Nepal the tiara of the king was tossed, but the throne remains intact and the few political sat on the throne.

This dictatorial constitution might be promulgated for now, but this will lead Nepal in a prolonged conflict and Madhesh might be forced to rethink its relationship with Nepal.