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All eyes on Saturday’s protest

Friday, February 27th, 2015
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A rally organised by YCL cadres on 24 February. File photo: Devaki Bista

A rally organised by YCL cadres on 24 February. File photo: Devaki Bista

The Maoist, Madhesi and other fringe parties are all geared up for what they say would be their biggest show of strength.

On Saturday, the UCPN (Maoist)-led alliance of opposition parties is carrying out rallies from different parts of Kathmandu Valley. All these rallies will flock to Khula Manch of Kathmandu for a mass assembly.

Prem Bahadur Singh, spokesperson for the alliance, says ‘at least 200,000 people’ will participate in Saturday’s protest. “May be more, not less,” he says. “We will show our strength by organising the biggest rally after the people’s movement in 2006.”

According to Singh, each rally will be led by one senior leader of the alliance.

UCPN (Maoist) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal will lead a rally from Kamal Pokhari to Khula Manch. The UCPN (Maoist) Vice Chairs Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha will lead rallies from Kalimati to Khula Manch and Tinkune to Khula Manch respectively.

Madhesi leaders Bijay Gachhadar, Upendra Yadav, Mahanth Thakur and Rajendra Mahato will also lead separate rallies. So will second wrung leaders of the UCPN (Maoist). But, their rallies will merge with other big rallies of top UCPN (Maoist) leaders before reaching Khula Manch.

UCPN (Maoist) spokesperson Dinanath Sharma says their protest will be ‘peaceful’ and Young Communist League (YCL) cadres and volunteers will be just providing security for their leaders.

But, common people fear violence, particularly after seeing newspaper pictures of YCL cadres running bamboo sticks on motorcyclists during their March Pass on 24 February. In a press statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has warned of actions against use or display of bamboo bamboos in Saturday’s protest.

A day before the Maoists’ show of strength, a meeting of top security officials decided to beef up security. A MoHA official told Nepali Times that police are on high alert and are searching for bamboo sticks being hidden by YCL cadres for Saturday’s protest.

All are curiously waiting for Saturday’s protest. For the opposition, it is a ‘make or break’ agitation. They believe they will get more leverage in negotiations with the ruling parties, if the protest sees a huge turnout. Even for the ruling NC-UML, the protest is equally important. The NC-UML will be happy if there will be less people joining the protest. It will give them upper hand in negotiations.

The NC-UML and the Maoist-Madhesi have not held talks after formation on 25 January of a panel in the Constituent Assembly (CA) to hold a vote on the disputed issues of the new constitution.

Some opposition leaders say talks might resume after Saturday’s protest. “Both sides are getting flexible,” said Madhesi Front leader Bijaya Gachhadar at a press meet in Biratnagar. “Probably after Saturday’s protest, talks will  resume soon.”

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One Response to “All eyes on Saturday’s protest”

  1. Jainendra Jeevan on Says:

    That’s theoretical n not insightful.Even if massive, a1-day rally which isn’t sustainable won’t be apowerfulbig bargaining chip

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