Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Terai

Laloo Yadav
Laloo Yadav (Photo credit: bbcworldservice)
Nepali speaking Nepalis from the hills talk of Nepali speakers in places like Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam and elsewhere as their own, and I don’t begrudge that. Cultural bonds are healthy. But by that same token, people in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh feel like my own to me. There are shared cultural bonds.

In my case, it goes way beyond that. I was born in India. My mother is Indian. One of my sisters is married to an Indian. I am as likely to dial the Indian country code as the Nepali country code. Main Laloo Ka Aadmi.

Nepalis who manage to come over to NYC are free to not work for Indians, but more than 95% freely choose to work for Indians. So it makes little sense for them to talk hate speech against Indians, which is the exact same hate speech they use against Madhesis. If Indians are your American dream, for you to talk hate speech against them is not only ungrateful, it is your problem, not theirs. I think that attitude, which is a mental sickness, is the primary reason why the overwhelming majority of Nepalis stay stuck in the jobs they start out with in the city. They prevent their own upward social mobility by engineering unhealthy attitudes towards Indians.

After democracy was reinstalled in Nepal in 1990, the Congress swept the Terai. All my relatives in Mahottari and Dhanusha became Congress supporters. My family was one exception. My father contested for parliament on a Sadbhavana party ticket. But that was preceded by the enemy behavior Basu Risal’s brother, the Vice Principal at the school, and Chiranjiwi Wagle’s cousin, a teacher, acted out against me at Budhanilkantha School. They were not alone. It was a rude shock to me. It took me years to come up with the vocabulary to describe my experience. You can see water with great clarity, but if you don’t know the word for it, what will you call it?

When the Sadbhavana party split for the first time, Hridayesh Tripathy, Rajendra Mahato, Rameshwar Raya Yadav, Sarita Giri, and others formed the Nepal Samajwadi Janata Dal. Tripathy was General Secretary, I was a Vice General Secretary. Technically speaking I was senior to both Rajendra Mahato and Sarita Giri at the time in the party. That was right before I came to America for college.

Over a decade later I became the only Madhesi in America to work full time for the Madhesi movement when it took off in 2007. Upendra Yadav and I had never communicated one on one before. But when he landed in Los Angeles a few months later for the ANA Convention, his first question to the people who went to receive him was, “Where is Paramendra Bhagat?” They took him to the hotel, he again asked, “Where is Paramendra Bhagat?” They ended up flying him over to NYC. I was with him pretty much every hour during the four or so days he was in the city before he flew over to Nepal.

The electoral setback of the Madhesi parties in the recent elections to the Constituent Assembly I have taken in stride. The pendulum will swing again. You can’t be 30 parties, and say Ek Madhesh Ek Pradesh, and expect the people to buy that. There is space for only one Madhesi party in Nepali politics. All 30 parties will have to become one. I believe they are working towards it. That act of unification alone will take their vote share from the current 25% to 35%. Post unification that one Madhesi party will sweep the state elections in the Terai.

Sushil Koirala’s performance has been poor. And some of the key UML leaders in government act nakedly corrupt, and are supposedly with open underworld ties. I already foresee a strong anti-incumbency wave against the NC and the UML in the next national election the country will see, which should be some time in 2015.

I want the NC to perform well. I want the UML to perform well. That elevates the standard of democracy in the country. If the NC and the UML perform well, the only way the Maoists and the Madhesis stand a chance of a comeback is if they do even better. That political competition is a good thing. But I have been disappointed by Sushil Koirala and Bamdev Gautam. Forget development, I am not sure they are even going to deliver the constitution on time.

What Nepal needs is a Modi, a Nitish Kumar, someone who will focus on the economy like a laser beam. Sadly I don’t see a personality of that temperament in Nepali politics right now. It will take a good constitution and a few national elections for the system to throw up such individuals perhaps.
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