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Pressure tactic

Thursday, November 26th, 2015
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FIRESIDE: Yubhan Tamang, 39, has been cooking over a firewood stove to feed 300 patients everyday at Bir Hospital for the past one and half months. Pic: Gopen Rai

After last week’s failed talks the government and the Madhesi parties are back to old games: wait for the other side to blink first. The security forces and the protesters are now engaged in a tug of war to control movement along the East-West Highway.

As tension escalated across the eastern Tarai after three deaths in police firing this week in Saptari, the government even mulled deploying the army to quell protests. But the army wisely advised the government to seek a political solution.

The government then decided to deploy the Police and Armed Police Force (APF) along the highway. Laxmi Dhakal, spokesperson for Ministry of Home Affairs, said: “We will not allow anyone to block the highway.”

The government’s special security plan has deterred Madhesi protesters from gathering on the highway, but it has also infuriated them. “It’s a ploy to not let talks succeed,” said Laxman Lal Karna of Sadbhavana Party. “We can’t sit for talks if the government uses force against our people.”

With both sides employing pressure tactics, chances of resumption of talks are slim.  But informal consultations continued this week between the two sides, between chief negotiator Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister KP Oli, and between Oli and the Indian ambassador.

Even if both sides agree to sit for formal talks again, there is very little possibility of a breakthrough. The main issue is the fate of three districts in the eastern and two in the western Tarai. NC and UML hardliners like Sher Bahadur Deuba, Krishna Sitaula and Bhim Rawal want them to be part of the hill provinces, while the Madhesi parties want the districts to be included entirely in the two Tarai provinces.

The Madhesi parties view the movement as a battle for their political survival, and it will not be ready to compromise unless parts, if not the whole, of the five disputed districts are inserted in the Madhes province. PM Oli is equally  adamant, he said this week: “I don’t know how many more days I will survive, but I will work for the Nepali people till I die.”

New Delhi, the third and probably the most important player in this brinkmanship, is also waiting for Kathmandu to concede to Madhesi demand on demarcation of Tarai provinces. Realising that he cannot mend his relations with New Delhi, Oli is trying to do something to be remembered by as a true nationalist before his tenure as probably Nepal’s shortest-term prime minister ends.

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3 Responses to “Pressure tactic”

  1. लतारे on Says:

    stupidity here is clearly undermining by the government itself of supply routes from the north – something that’d give much stronger negotiating hand to the government. if these so-called leaders had any iota of brain left, those routes would be being built at war footing.

  2. Bunty on Says:

    The Biggest Mistake that Nepali Communist Leaders will make is by sitting in the lap of china. Myanmar did it years back and sat in chinas Lap. The whole world and especially the West turned against it and saw to it that Myanmar remains in trouble. The Wise Myamar Military immediately did a course correction and improved relations with India, Japan and the West. Today you see Myanmar getting benefits from all its neighbours also west. The question is even if some infrastructure Projects are finalsied in the North, with such a treacherous terrain, will it solve the economic woes of Nepal. Not at all. So wise men will talk to India and listen to their point of view. What is India saying. It says first improve your internal conditions. What Nepal is saying. Come and hit the Madhesis and clear the routes. What kind of thinking is this. By that logic we could have bombed the whole of Kashmir along with all the separatists over there. Democracies do not work like this. Please understand. Try and understand that your new constitution is a flawed one and needs correction. By giving jingoistic comments wont solve the issue

  3. Tashi Lama on Says:

    Nepal being a land locked country should follow a middle way policy, there is nothing suiting and better policy than the middle way policy. Nationalist feeling is natural and every nations deserves that, but not by being foolish and stubborn like bull. The fact here is that China is just a new friend since the illegal occupation of Tibet in 1959, but India as a friend and neighbour was there many centuries back. All these Brahmins inherited from India when Malla kings and Ranas came into power. So, Nepal economically, politically and culturally had stronger ties with India, Nepal is much dependent with India, not with it’s new friend China, who much more opportunist, cunning than India. As the saying goes: more than the desires for new clothing’s, it would be better to stick with the old friend. I think Nepalese should understand this reality! Let the snake go away without breaking the stick nor hurting the snake! Saamp bhi na marey, aur lathi bhi na tootey!

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