Janajatis kick off nationwide stir

- Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu

Nov 2, 2014-

Janajati leaders, activists and intellectuals on Sunday made a joint announcement of a nationwide ‘movement’, demanding single identity-based federalism in new constitution.

The Janajati alliance features leaders from the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML as well as the main opposition, UCPN (Maoist).

In its manifesto unveiled in the Capital on Sunday, the Adibasi Janajati Rastriya Andolan (Ajra) has put forth a number of demands including priority rights, rights to self determination and a fully proportional electoral system in the new constitution.

Ajra is an alliance of 53 agitating political parties, their sister organisations and indigenous groups headed by a veteran activist and former CPN-UML minister Padma Ratna Tuladhar.

The alliance has the representation of Janajati leaders from parties both inside and outside the Constituent Assembly that include IB Gurung from NC, Prithvi Subba Gurung of CPN-UML, Barsha Man Pun of UCPN (Maoist), and Dev Gurung from the CPN-Maoist. IB Gurung and Prithvi Subba Gurung were absent from Sunday’s function though their names were on the 44-member central coordination committee. The manifesto reads that the movement aims to create nationwide pressure to defend major historical achievements like republicanism and secularism. Similarly, the movement plans to fight for ethnic, gender and linguistic equality of backward and marginalised communities in the new constitution.

Tuladhar said they realised the need for protest due to growing threat on major historical achievements of People’s War, People’s Revolution, Janajati and Madhesi Andolan.“This struggle aims to seek reassurance and commitment from the government and major parties to enforce past agreements with Janajatis,” said Tuladhar.

On May 2012, the government had agreed with Nefin to federate the country into at least 10 states based on identity. It was mentioned in the pact that each state would be named after a specific cultural and historical linkage of people living in the region, ensuring autonomy, priority rights and rights to self determination. Prof Om Gurung, spokesperson for the movement’s central coordination committee, said there should be a provision of autonomous, protected and special areas for the people often neglected by the state. According to him, the protest will begin with a national awareness campaign to enhance people’s knowledge on federalism and identity.

Several Janajati leaders and intellectuals, however, hold strong “reservations” about the significance of another demonstration in the name of Janajati while a majority of its members are leading similar protest in the UCPN (Maoist)-led 22-party alliance in the Constituent Assembly.

Janajati leaders affiliated with the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, an umbrella organization of 58 indigenous communities, have instead urged everyone to concentrate on the Nefin’s ongoing protest.

On Saturday, Janajati intellectual Krishna Bhattachan told the Post that the participation of Janajati leaders from ruling parties and those outside the CA had raised question over the effectiveness of the movement.

“Why is another protest needed when many of the parties from this andolan are already engaged in a similar protest both inside the CA and outside?” asked Bhattachan.

Published: 03-11-2014 08:55

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