KATHMANDU, Oct 5: A group of noted CPN-UML dissident leaders, including party Vice-Chairman Ashok Rai, quit the party Thursday and vowed to form an alternative political force to champion single ethnic identity-based federalism and social justice.
Rai, Bijay Subba, Rajendra Shrestha, Rakam Chemjong, Bir Bahadur Lama, Ajambar Rai Kangmang, Hemraj Rai, Ranadhwaj Kandangwa, Mangalsiddhi Manandhar, Rijwan Ansari and Gopal Thakur, among scores of others, renouncement the UML amidst a function in Kathmandu.
Ashok Rai announced the names of 47 central-level leaders at the function at the Rastriya Sabha Griya attended by hundreds of representatives gathered from across the country. He said at least 517 leading UML members from 61 districts quit the party on Thursday alone.
Most of the party leaders addressing the jam-packed hall claimed that they had no option but to quit the UML as the party leadership rebuffed their demand to name and delineate the provinces on the basis of ethnic identity.
They said the UML leadership´s flip-flop over state restructuring, its conspiracy against the identity-based federal model and the party establishment´s bias against the Madhesi and ethnic communities led them to revolt and instigated them to form a new political force.
The leaders said that the UML has betrayed them, its voters and the people in general by standing against the identity-based federal model even though it had committed itself in its election manifesto in 2008 to stand for identity-based state restructuring.
"We have already formed a forward-looking group and will shortly establish an alternative political force that will lead the country in the right direction," Ashok Rai, who heads the group, announced at the gathering.
He claimed that the new political formation may launch a mass movement with an objective of institutionalizing federalism, mainstreaming the marginalized communities and empowering the oppressed.
Rai and most of those addressing the gathering devoted most of their speeches to refuting allegations that the emerging formation will be a purely ethnic party and tried to convince the gathering that the new party will be a most inclusive organization.
"We have been advocating equality among all the ethnic, religious and linguistic communities. So the accusations that we are trying to form an ethnic entity is baseless and entirely biased," he argued.
Describing the existing political forces as very old and narrow paths on the verge of becoming defunct, he said the proposed new party would be like the to-be-built four-lane Kathmandu-Tarai fasttrack road.
While renouncing the UML, they announced that they would institute an alternative political force that will champion identity-based federalism, social justice and the uplift of downtrodden communities.
He said that in the same way that a Madhes movement was a need to establish the agenda of restructuring the country into a federal setup, a third movement might be needed to fulfill the task that the CA was supposed to accomplish.
"The CA couldn´t promulgate a new constitution let alone realize the dream of identity-based federalism. So we may have to lead a movement to complete that mission," he explained.
Highlighting some features of the to-be-formed new party, Rajendra Shrestha claimed that it would work with the objective of implementing an effective federal system as a means of ethnic emancipation and also work to establish socialism for class emancipation.
"The organizational structure of the new party will be drastically different from the existing ones because it will ensure proportional representation of all ethnic communities based on population strength," explained Shrestha.
Bijay Subba, who was a politburo member in the UML, said he had to quit the party after 43 years as "the party leadership was captured by a handful of Brahmins."
"Of the 115 central committee members, 66 are from the Brahmin community. That is the same reason some leaders from outside that community can´t transform the party despite their relentless efforts," he added.
Rijwan Ansari said they decided to quit the UML as the party leadership kept on deceiving the people in the name of Marxism and People´s Multiparty Democracy propounded by the popular leader Madan Bhandari.
"There is no chance of rectifying the UML leadership as the establishment has turned the party into a moribund entity. Some friends still see chances of putting this dead entity back on tract, but that is nothing but stupidity," said Ansari.
Those quitting the party include former CA members Yogilal Yadav, Pasang Sherpa, Lucky Sherpa, Bhagawati Chaudhary and Raj Kumar Rai.
The dissident leaders claimed that with the central level leaders in Kathmandu announcing that they are quitting, hundreds of other UML leaders across the country would follow suit.
Some influential dissidents including Prithivi Subba Gurung, Ram Chandra Jha, Kiran Gurung and Dal Bahadur Rana Magar, who have been pressing the party over identity-based federalism, did not attend the function.