The party should not have split in the first place. Even the unification is a year overdue. Only Girijababu and Sher Bahadur can tell us what is delaying it. This time around, I am hopeful, but I'll believe it when I see it. We never intended to split the party. We only wanted to make the party's leadership more democratic and to fight against bad practices.
Did you find there was more democracy within the NC-D?
We tried to make the new Congress more democratic, but the old ways and the old culture continued. That is why we have been speaking out against Sher Bahadur Deuba's leadership.
Do you think the elections will take place in November?
If the current law and order situation continues, a November election is impossible. Law and order must improve and the Maoists must honour their commitments. They have to sincerely tell us how they regard the election. The demands of different agitating groups including the madhesis have to be addressed, and the eight parties have to prepare a joint electoral program.
What's happening in the madhes-most major parties have lost their base there?
The madhes has sent two clear messages: they are in favour of democracy and opposed to the Maoists' style and perspective. Despite major changes in the country, the mentality of the eight-party leaders has not changed. If they continue like this, the madhes will reject them. The Madhes has traditionally been the Congress's vote bank, but even this party will find it hard to salvage a decent position if it does not internalise the changes and adopt a new approach. The same goes for the UML. The madhes is looking for options.
We hear you are launching a new regional party.
The big parties are more focussed on partisan interests, than madhesi rights. Instead of supporting the Madhes Movement, they are suppressing it. Madhesis are looking for a party that will represent them. We've frequently met with MPs from different parties, but I am yet to decide on a new party. My colleagues and public opinion are both in favour of a new party.
What about the separatist calls?
Madhesis are demanding an autonomous federal state, not an independent one. Even we are against that. The communal tension is unfortunate. Our fight is with state not with the region or pahadi people.