Comments misinterpreted, says Mahato a champion of greater rights for plains
Newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Nepal Rajendra Mahato has kicked up a controversy soon after taking over on Saturday saying he is committed to building a ‘multi-nation state’. Mr. Mahato is one of the three Deputy Prime Ministers (Raghuvir Mahaseth and Bishnu Prasad Paudel are the other two) appointed by Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli who reshuffled his Cabinet this weekend.
“We remain committed to building an alternative power and will safeguard identity and rights of our people. As long as we are in power, we will pursue good governance. We will prepare for a nationwide movement to set up multi-nation state in Nepal,” said Mr. Mahato. He is one of the pioneers of the Madhesi movement which has been demanding greater rights for the people of the plains.
The comment drew quick criticism on social media which accused Mr. Mahato of trying to play divisive politics. CPN-UML leader Yogesh Bhattarai urged Prime Minister Oli to advise his ministerial colleagues to be restrained in public comments. A protest was organised on Saturday by the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) that demanded Mr. Oli to step down over the comments.
The Madhesi movement began in 2015 led by Mr. Mahato and others. Mr. Paudel and Mr. Mahaseth belong to the CPN-UML of Prime Minister Oli and Mr. Mahato belongs to the coalition partner Janata Samajbadi Party. The JSP however was divided on supporting PM Oli when Mr. Mahato and Mahant Thakur of the party supported PM Oli’s dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament.
Mr. Mahato claimed on Sunday that his comments were misinterpreted as he did not seek to divide Nepal’s state while seeking the rights of the Madhesis. “I have taken a serious note of the attempt to misrepresent my comment,” he said in a statement.
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