The national newspapers, evening news on television and local FM stations are full of debate about the new constitution, and especially the movement by groups lobbying for and against federalism with identity.
However, here in eastern Nepal, where there are conflicting territorial claims for ethnic autonomy, ordinary people are apprehensive that traditional social harmony will be irreversibly disturbed.
However, some like dairy farmer Lokendra Subedi say the ties across ethnic lines here are too strong to be broken by a few politicians. "We haven't been affected at all," Subedi says, "my neighbours are Newars, and they don't bother me and I don't bother them."
Subedi delivers 150 litres of milk early every morning to Rai, Limbu and Madhesi customers in Dharan, but the only thing that worries him are shutdowns and transportation strikes which affect his business. "All I want is for the strikes to stop, and the constitution to be passed. There is too much politics and there are too many politicians," he adds ruefully.
In Dharan, Bishnu Maya Rai runs a small tea shop near the BP Memorial Hospital called 'New aunty'. Her customers are a microcosm of Nepal's ethnicities. "I wish people would stop talking about this ethnic group and that ethnic group," she says, pouring tea, "they are fighting over a problem they themselves created, while we ordinary people struggle to survive."
She says she hears on the radio that there is tension between ethnicities in other parts of Nepal, but says she hasn't seen any tension in her town. "We are living peacefully together, and I am sure we can live like this in the future as long as politicians don't mess it up," says Rai.
PICS: SITA MADEMBA
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