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Largest Madhesi party of Nepal splits

Kathmandu: Nepal`s Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum-Democratic, the second largest partner in the ruling Maoist-led coalition, today suffered a jolt as 10 of its top leaders quit from the party to form a new group. Ten Central Committee members resigned from the party after expressing unhappiness over the working style of party Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar.

"The disgruntled members are forming a new political party under the leadership of former Defence Minister Sharad Singh Bhandari," party sources said. Those who resigned include seven members of the dissolved Constituent Assembly. The party with 27 members in the dissolved Constituent Assembly was considered the largest Madhesi party and also the second largest coalition partner in the Maoist-led government.

The others who quit include Pramod Gupta, Kaushal Yadav, Ramananda Mandal, Neelam Verma, Sewati Das Patna, Om Prakash Yadav, Paras Sah, Amrita Agrahari and Ameerulla Ansari. They announced their resignation enmasse at a press conference here after the party took disciplinaryaction against three of its senior leaders including Bhandari. The party had asked clarification from Bhandari and other dissident leaders after they opposed the Maoist-Madhesi alliance and demanded resignation of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.

The dissident group also protested against Bhattarai`s decision to hold fresh Constituent Assembly elections on November 22. The move has given a blow to the Maoist-Madhesi alliance, which has announced fresh polls, though the opposition parties including Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have termed the move as undemocratic and unconstitutional and also threatened to boycott the polls under the present dispensation.

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