POLITICAL UNREST IN NEPAL

By LB THAPA FOR THE ROAMING POST

Over the last few weeks Madhesi and Tharu ethnic minority community have been protesting against the government’s plan to include 22 districts of Tarai in a province dominated by mountain inhabitants. Madhesi and Tharu community think that new borders will curtail their political representation in the mainstream politics.

The four major political parties which are engaged in making a new constitution have the responsibility to take all minority groups in confidence towards making a consolidated Nepal. In a recent time Madhesi protest demanding for an independent state has brought the country to the screeching halt. The peaceful protest later turned out violent as the protestors were wielded with axe, spears, stick, iron rod and also light arms. The government had no option but to deploy army after angry mob killed eight policemen. The bloody skirmish has already claimed 20 lives and many other received serious injuries. To clamp down the bloody protest the government has already deployed army in violence prone areas. In brief, the Madhesi community demands for greater autonomy under the charter. For their support lawmakers representing the Madhesi interest did walk out of the constituent assembly last month and openly supported the protesters.

It is believed that new constitution will bring peace, harmony and development in the country. However, the initial proposal of including 22 districts of Tarai with mountain dwellers in a single province was unacceptable for Madhesi and Tharu minority communities. Their demand is to divide the entire Tarai into maximum two states and this is the bone of contention. They want federal set up of 11 states along ethnic lines. In fact the Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has already sent a proposal for the dialogue with the agitating groups so that a peaceful solution of the problem can be found out, but the protestors demand to halt initial process of constitution making before beginning the dialogue. In the meantime, there are also some unresolved issues among the four major political parties. They have failed to agree on key issues such as whether to go for federalism or not, identity and the balance between presidential and parliamentary powers.

If we go deep in the present political crisis, we will understand that the major key issues of contention are whether to go for a federal state based on caste and ethnicity as demanded by UCPN-M, form of governance and the electoral & the judicial system. In recent time the present government has shown positive assertion towards centralized governance with seven provinces and a parliamentary system. However, the UCPN-M has proposed for decentralized governance with 10-14 provinces. Another issue is that NC and CPN-UML are willing to finalize the constitution by majority vote in the CA, but UCPN-M does not agree for this. The UCPN-M simply wants to reach an agreement by consensus.

Due to present political fracas the country is suffering a lot. The country was already reeling under political chaos and uncertainty, the earthquake has only made situation go bad to worse. Earthquake had caused more damaged in rural areas than in Kathmandu where the quake victims have yet not been rehabilitated. Their houses have yet not been built and received no financial aide.

Increasing hours of load shedding has left the capital city in darkness for up to 14 hours per day. As a result of ongoing load shedding and never ending agitation in Tarai, the country’s tourism sector in general and national economy in particular have been crippled. Poor governance and corruption have discouraged much needed FDI.  Looking at the overall performance of the present government it seems that this CA is likely to dissolve sooner rather than later, possibly another election might take place in days to come. However, we have already seen that only new CA election is not going to resolve the political issues. The concerned political parties must think about the interest of the country before they make any demand. Let’s not forget that no political parties and ethnic communities should act for their vested interest.

About the author

LB Thapa is the editor at The Roaming Post. He can be reached at editortheroamingpost@gmail.com

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