Stop Confrontational Politics!

Narayan Upadhyay

 

The Saptari incident on Monday in which four demonstrators died in police action once again suggested that if the political parties indulge in confrontational politics, more dreadful events will take place in the country. The sad incident is indeed a fallout of the combative attitude of the two major parties of the nation- the CPN-UML and the Madhesi Morcha, which has now threatened to snowball into more of such incidents if the sides involved do not exercise restraint when the situation at hand get precarious.

 

The incident can be attributed to the deepening chasm between the main opposition and the Madhesi Morcha over the hotly disputed constitution amendment bill. While the KP Oli-headed UML is dead against endorsing the amendment bill, the Morcha is coercing all the parties to get the bill passed so that the redrawing of the Terai provinces could be done as per the Morcha demand. The ruling parties that have wanted to address the Morcha demand by endorsing the crucial bill with two-thirds House vote, have not been able to do so owing to the UML's rejection. The Morcha sees the UML as a great barrier to the fulfillment of its demands.

 

Bitterness

 

As the amendment bill has gathered dust in the Parliament, the bitterness between the main opposition-UML and the Morcha has spiraled to a new high. The UML chair Oli's frequent sarcastic remarks towards the Madhesi parties have not helped ameliorate the rising tension between the two parties. On the other hand, the Madhesi leaders declared that they would not allow the "anti-Madhesh" UML to enter southern plains, which they regard as their own turf.

 

However, looking at the present make up of the Parliament where the main opposition has considerable number of Madhesi representatives from the plains, the UML has been buoyed to stage its Mechi to Mahakali Awareness Campaign, by staging several meeting in the Terai plains. The campaign, needless to say, drew the Madhesi ire after UML leaders started staging public meetings in the towns of the Terai region. As is the case always, the UML leaders often rebuked the rival parties including the Madhesis at these public gathering, which certainly drove towards their madness. The Madhesi leaders and workers must have thought how come their rival UML could criticise them at their own turf. The Madhesis workers were urged to come to the venues where UML were staging public meetings and to disrupt the gatherings.

 

The fear of confrontation with Madhesi workers in Rajbiraj forced the UML to change its venue of the meeting. But this did not stop the Madhesi from indulging in their disruptive acts, forcing the anti-riot police present at the venue to open fire which killed four and injured several. The death of Madhesi workers is sure to deepen the already flared up situation, which is evident after Morcha announced two-day general strike in the plains and declared that it would pull out its support to the present government. In the meantime, the UML has been forced to postpone its programmes for three days.

 

The disruptive act of the Madhesi Morcha does raise a vital question- whether a political party of a nation has right to hold peaceful meeting in any part of the nation? As a democratic society, every group or party does possess the right to organise its meeting in  a peaceful manners while the rival parties should have the courage to listen to the grudges, grievances and criticism of the opposition. They too have the right to organise their own meetings where they can give answer to each and every criticism hurled towards them in an equally strong word. In short, if the parties regard themselves as democratic, they should embrace the democratic norms and values to counter their rivals. Using physical force against rivals only hint at their intolerance towards democratic ideals, which exposes their authoritative attitude when it comes to tackle the serious issues.

 

As the nation is currently passing through one of the most chaotic of times, no party should indulge in acts that flare up tension among different parties and ethnic groups or regional groups, which can only spell troubles for the country and its people. The parties should tackle the most sensitive issues of the federalism and ethnicity sensitively. The incendiary rhetoric and inflammatory discourses can only lead to confrontation between and among the parties and various interest groups, which often result in death and destruction.

 

Ever since the nation was rendered into a democratic republic state, we have come across incidents that suggest about the growing ethnic tension in the country. The term Pahade and Madhesi nationalism, Bahun-Chhetri versus people of other ethnicities and regionalism and racism have got flared up unnecessarily. This has indeed led to a kind of confrontational politics. It seems that at present every ethnic group looks down upon the other and fights to get most of the present chaotic situation, thanks to the political rhetoric and discourse of the present day.

 

We have had grave incidents in the past which hinted that the flaring up of the tension between the two groups often leads towards carnages. In 2007 about 37 Maoist cadres died and 100 injured after a group of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum workers attacked the gathering of the Maoist cadres in Gaur, Rautahat. Both the parties held their meetings at the same place. Similarly, the movement carried out by the supporters of the Tharuhat region and the United Far Western Region resulted in the Tikapur incident in 2015 where several persons, including a high ranking police official and child, were killed.

 

Focus on polls

 

With the tension running high in the Terai, post Saptari incident, the parties involved should think over it and stop themselves from indulging in confrontational politics. It is the duty and responsibilities of the leaders of the major parties to give the nation an exit from the current transition, which often threatens to impel the nation towards instability and disturbances. At present, as the politics is in a state of impasse, the elections to all the tiers of the governance appear to be a viable option for all parties. The people's mandate to the parties would certainly resolve various problems faced by the parties and country. Trading blames and exhibiting combative mood against each other, the parties would only stoke troubles for the people, nation and themselves.

 

 

 

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