Defense Minister removed from office for separatist remark

Meetings held October 17 regarding the Defense Minister Sarat Singh Bhandari of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic Party (MJF-D) were held in response to his alleged advocacy of a separatist movement.
Bhandari had voiced the formation of an independent Terai state in southern Nepal in an “anti- national” statement he made in Kathmandu. He implied that 22 counties of southern Nepal’s Terai could form their own autonomous region if the government fails to meet realistic demands.
Members of the dominant parties of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the UCPN-Maoists had expressed their concern at such remarks.
In his defense, Bhandari argued, “I have just raised the issue of inclusiveness.” Reluctant to step down from office, Bhandari faced tribunals both from his own party, the MJF-D, and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s Cabinet.
Bhattarai announced that Bhandari was officially sacked October 19, as well as the Land Reforms and Management Prabu Sah. While Bhandari was reluctant to leave office, Sah, who had reportedly been involved in a murder plot against Hindu Yuva sangh leader Kashi Tiwari, had already submitted his resignation.
The Madhesi of the Terai region have been calling for more presence in the Nepali army and political system, and are trying to maintain—or insert—a foot in the door while the country’s constitution is still in the draft phase following the conclusion of the revolution in 2008.
Sources: The Himalaya Times, Oct. 17; The Himalaya Times Oct. 19, 2011.

Categories: Nepal

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