| May 19, 2019

Cracks surface in Federal Alliance due to rivalries

Cracks surface in Federal Alliance due to rivalries
KATHMANDU, May 10: As the agitating Federal Alliance, including the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), has started preparations for Kathmandu-centric protests, cracks have surfaced among the alliance partners -- mainly between the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and the other Madhes-based parties.

The rift surfaced when FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav was declared coordinator of the alliance of 25 agitating parties at a recent meeting, where senior Madhesi leaders - namely Mahantha Thakur, Rajendra Mahato and Raj Kishor Yadav -- were absent.
While other parties under UDMF are in a mood to continue protests in Tarai-Madhes under the banner of UDMF and Kathmandu-centric protests under the banner of the Federal Alliance, FSFN is inclined to carry forward the protests only under the alliance banner. The FSFN move angered other Madhes-based parties and they have been criticizing FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav for it.

"Upendrajee was declared coordinator of the alliance at a meeting where the other leaders from Madhes were absent. We could not understand why he was in a hurry to declare himself coordinator," said Manish Suman, general secretary of Sadbhavana Party.

The secretariat of the alliance on Monday met to discuss the program for picketing Singha Durbar on May 15, and Suman said he raised same questions at the meeting.

Suman claimed that FSFN has issued a circular to cadres to protest only under the banner of the alliance, while the other Madhes-based parties are running protests in Madhes districts under the UDMF banner.

"Madhes has been protesting for more than six months at the call of UDMF. More than 40 people died during the protests launched by UDMF. We cannot just forget about UDMF now," said Suman.

On the other hand, FSFN Co-chairman Rajendra Shrestha argued that there was no rift within the Federal Alliance and accused media of exaggerating things. "Nepali media is suffering from 'brahmanbad' (pro-brahmin bias) and they are blowing things out of proportion," he said.

Shrestha also claimed that the Kathmandu-centric protests will be under the banner of the Federal Alliance while provincial fronts are free to conduct their respective programs at local level.

"Federal Alliance is a unified banner for all the parties, social organizations and provincial and regional fronts. We are united and launching our programs but the media is always writing nonsense about us," he said.

Meanwhile, a formal call from the government talks team to parties under UDMF has also sparked debate within the alliance.

"Federal Alliance is running the protests and it is to the alliance that the government should make a call. Calling only the provincial fronts and only a section of the agitating forces only shows the government policy of divide and rule," said Shrestha.

Suman argued that though the government call was not significant, it proved the importance of the Madhes movement and the UDMF.