There are conflicting accounts about who delivered the coup de gr‚ce to the constitution on Sunday night. In his off-the-cuff address to the nation Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai blamed "status quoists" in the NC and UML. The NC and UML say it was the Maoists who deliberately avoided a last-minute compromise.
The NC and UML have never really felt any ownership for the demand of a constituent assembly nor for federalism based on ethnicity. These were not their key demands of the 2006 democracy movement, and they went along with it only because the Maoists had to be appeased for peace.
The CA was just a means to an end for the Maoists, and when it was no longer useful, they let it go. Identity-based federalism was proving to be intractable, but the parties had found a workable formula in the offer by Janajati activists late on Sunday to accept multiple-ethnic labels. But the Madhesis didn't agree, and Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal decided to let the CA lapse and announce elections.
It is clear that the 22 November election will be a de facto referendum on federalism based on identity. The Maoists will be painting the NC and UML as those opposed to change, while the NC and UML will do their utmost to prove the Maoists right. It will be an election campaign in which ethnicity and politics will be mixed into a highly combustible powder. Left-leaning commentators are saying social harmony is a euphemism for perpetuating the status quo, almost supporting a descent into anarchic violence. As if communal co-existence and equality are mutually exclusive. It is necessary to acknowledge past wrongs for the state to take steps to correct them. But does that have to be through extreme hate speech and stoking a revenge mentality unless a questionable model of federalism is approved? The openly racist slogans at the Janajati and Bahun-Chettri demonstrations across the country give us reason to fear the worst. Some of this is echoed in writings of commentators who almost seem to want this country to be rent asunder.
By using unrestrained racist language to simplistically heap blame on everything in Nepal's history on Bahun-Chhetris, ethno-communists are taking the country down a dangerous path. Such extreme rhetoric closes the door on dialogue and compromise, and can be precursors to the kind of violence that have destroyed other countries in recent history. On social media, the retaliatory barbs from the other side have become just as alarming.
It is a dangerous assumption that once Nepal's ethnic groups have their states, all problems will resolve themselves. We have seen from Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria that it never happens that way. The hate-mongering last week between Rai and Limbu activists over rival claims in Sunsari could be a sign of things to come in other contested territories.
In the marketplace of ideas, public intellectuals are supposed to find meeting points, a common minimum understanding to steer the country towards a peaceful resolution, not become communalists whipping up antagonism and resentment.
What an irony that the so-called status quoists have more constructive ideas about workable models of federalism than the red elite. They are offering practical solutions on making federalism work, to realistically improve access of the marginalised to resources and equalise state-community relations. Advocates of non-ethnic federalism, many of them Janajatis themselves, have done pioneering work in decentralisation and community models in the country. But all we hear from the Maoists and their recent converts are slogans. Nepalis are up to here with slogans.
A debate is healthy when both sides come up with compelling arguments. At least this is how it works in democratic and pluralistic societies. Hateful remarks, accusations and provocations are best suited to propaganda-driven communist dictatorships. People don't believe anymore that 'eggs will have to be broken to make an omelette'. Nepalis have moved on, but our communal communists are still dreaming of utopia.
The disillusionment is now complete: except for the party cadre and other opportunists no one really believes the Maoists have the people's well-being at heart when they deliver grand speeches about liberation. The comrades know this, and that is why they will be trying to use the ethnic card in November's elections.
On an issue as critical as state restructuring and system of governance, it may be best to let people decide for themselves. A referendum would allow Nepalis to directly vote for what they think is best for them. Let the people decide, not the pundits, they have always displayed more common sense and compassion.
Death of an institution, KANAK MANI DIXIT The Constituent Assembly provided an example of how not to write a constitution
Out of the darkness, ANURAG ACHARYA A national unity government with elections by November is the least parties can now give dejected Nepalis
1. Sagar Thapa
Just a crap!
01 JUNE 2012 | 11:25 AM NST
2. A.S, Kathmandu
Some quick thoughts:
1. "As if communal co-existence and equality are mutually exclusive."
Oh, that must be why during¬†two centuries of "communal co-existence", Nepal was such an "equal" society.
2. "It is a dangerous assumption that once Nepal's ethnic groups have their states, all problems will resolve themselves."
No one ever said this. Those campaigning for progressive change¬†know very well that¬†identity-based federalism is just a starting point - a crucial starting point - for making Nepal a more inclusive society. They have¬†emphasized time and again that¬†it is not going to solve all the problems and that it's going to be a complex and challenging process. So stop putting words into their mouths. Practice what you preach.
3. "the so-called status quoists have more constructive ideas about workable models of federalism than the red elite."
Hmm. So the two¬†proposals drafted by the CA,¬†the most representative body in Nepal, were not "workable". Not workable for who? For the¬†marginalized groups that make up the majority of the population?¬†For the¬†320 CA members who voted against the 11-state model? Or for¬†the bahun-dominated¬†NC and the UML who can't even stomach the idea of reducing high-caste monopoly?¬†Whose "constructive ideas" are you referring to? Please be more specific. Are you referring to "experts" who regularly stand¬†on the platform of¬†Nepali Times to¬†display their flag-waving,¬†anti-federalist, "I am Nepali"¬†nationalism? Rant all you want, but be a little more thorough and rigorous in your analysis. Lazy ranting is not going to¬†convince anyone.
01 JUNE 2012 | 12:29 PM NST
3. Indraraj Giri
It is as you mention an irony that the "revolutionaries" have been proposing¬† a federal structure along ethnic lines, while "status-quoists" have come up with more constructive and viable ways of federating the country.It should also be noted that the maoist and their supporters want a strong central govt.The very concept of federalism is based on the principle of decentralization of power and right to self determination(not secession).Without these rights,what is the use of federalism,unless there is a ploy to push states into tussle amongst themselves over various issues(resources,taxation,etc) and to establish a one party authoritarian regime at the center.
01 JUNE 2012 | 12:30 PM NST
Nepalis have moved on. where to? Last I saw we returned to square 1. Status quo. Guess who benefits from SQ? Very poorly written article. The problems of the Maoists is they just sold out their MARTYRS -- those thousands who sacrificed their lives for a bunch of greedy politicians.¬†
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:05 PM NST
5. Danny Z
It is now clear that the Madhesi unwillingness to come to the compromise on the last moment was the straw that broke the camel's back. On One Madhes ,let us have the opinion of the people residing in some of the districts.Let the opinion of the Jhapalis people be asked whether they like to be together with Ilam or with Mithila.? Like wise let the people of Chitwan or Kanchanpur be given the choice of remaining with Dadeldhura or Tharuwan.A referendum is the most democratic solution.Likewise wherever a district existing with the present boundary be asked whether they want to be divided or not, that is they remain intact as of now so that wherever they are placed in the new state their boundary remains intact; they can express their wish in a democratic way. Lot of horse-trading by the power hungry vote bank politician can thus be resolved in these ways,in a democratic way.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:06 PM NST
Here's to those (including ones above) who are saying that accepting CA committee on State Restructuring would have solved everything: The CA committee report had provision for political "prime rights" in the ethnic provinces for 2 terms. This means that in a "Newa" province, only Newar people would be allowed to hold top posts. This is against all established norms of democracy that *many* people will be denied their rights by the constitution itself, based on caste or color.
The CA, people or anyone was not obliged to follow such undemocratic and utterly contemptible suggestion. Besides, the constitution was supposed to be made based on "agreement." The CA committee had a report that was supported by a little less than the half of its members. Taking such a draft to voting would have invited troubles for many years to come. Next time we're drafting a constitution, we should state clearly beforehand that we're making a "democratic constitution" for the people of Nepal and not a constitution "for the Maoist party."
Again, believing that the Jatiya caucus, the Maoist party and Christian missionaries, all hand in one glove were really supporting rights to the minorities is a prime example of stupidity that should go down in history books to prevent people elsewhere and in the future from repeating it. The Maoist party believes in a universal religion and system, governed by a very strong central power. It does not want devolution of powers to minorities at all, it just wants to get votes to ensure it has an iron grip at every resources and power centers of this country. Enough said.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:07 PM NST
Finally someone who is telling it like it is and not swallowing the Maoist propaganda that the NC and UML put a spanner in the works. The NC and UML never tried to hide that they were against ethnic federalism but they¬†had agreed on a compromise formula¬†with the Janajatis¬†at 4pm on Sunday. But the Maoists balked because they were scared of losing the Madhesis and scared of what the¬†Baidya faction will do. The entire Maoist philosophy is based on lies.¬†Thanks for putting the record straight, Rubeena Mahato. The truth will set us free.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:45 PM NST
whats she is writing!!! just crap..!! useless..
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:49 PM NST
Maoists had handpicked the SRC packing it with NGO workers loyal to its ideologies. The 10 or 14 model was a farce as Maoists, under their communist ideology, always want to maintain a centrally controlled structure. It is absolutely not true that NC and UML were never committed to Federalism. By the same token Maoists too we were never committed. Federalism emerged as an additional agenda which the Communist Maoists picked as a weapon sooner than NC and UML did. To be fair, NC and UML had agreed to the 11 state plan that Maoists also agreed to. Seeing that the federalism agenda was diluted and that the Maoists were too seen in the same light as NC and UML and for reasons not to give up the government leadership as was promised earlier, the communist Maoists made a u-turn and called the arrangements for 11 state agreement as no longer valid. This not only helped them again fool the Janajaits that they were seemingly more Janajati oriented but it also helped them make deals with the very power hungry Madheshi leaders to allow them to keep the more 'lucrative' ministries if they could stay in power. It is in fact the Maoists and no one else who have state capture as a single agenda and in their larger scheme of things, the state they capture will be a very impoverished, paralyzed nation with no federalism but a nation very hungry for a dictator to take over. Sadly, that dictator will come in the shape of Stalin look-alike PKD.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:50 PM NST
just wondering why everyone comes up with the example of utopia or any other country who didnīt do so well, why dont you just look south;
01 JUNE 2012 | 4:22 PM NST
11. Flexible 1
#1 You often get what wish for but not as you expect it to be
#2 We should ban the word "consensus" from all discussions, it's an impossible dream that has become a Nepali nightmare, there is nothing wrong with democratic disagreement
#3 We should all start using the word "respect" in our daily lives and think about what it means
#4 Leading up to the elections every party and lawmaker must state their policy on health, education, transport, water, electrification
#5 Leading up to the elections and before September every party should publish its policy and framework for a federal Nepal
Your writings used to be good until you could stand neutral on any political ideology. But gone are those days as this article suggests. You are now up on the race for blame game like many other fellow journalists. Or do I understand may be you have now streamlined yourself in Nepali media?
01 JUNE 2012 | 6:18 PM NST
A word itself doesn't make a sense unless it is contextualised, so is the meaning of status-quoist. I'm a status quoist because I don't want to compromise with those who put the armed struggle as a poitical option. I'm a status-quoist because the federal set up along racial line is a continuation of Shah dynasty's racial distribution of citizenship. I'm a status quoist because in parliamentary democracy the aspirations of nepali diversity can be well represented ergo I'm a status quoist because i'm fingering out the political class who has dared to break the status quo so hard established in 20th century between the communities and the ruling class which we call DEMOCRACY¬† today.
01 JUNE 2012 | 9:07 PM NST
14. fg wrong
Only the fools or leaders with their vested/personal interests do not learn from the experiences of others. Or else Sudan, nigeria, congo, northern ireland and many other countries are best examples for which Nepal should not be carved into ethnicity-based federal states. And, it's not Rubeena who needs to look down south. Learn the basic facts. Almost all states named after some ethnicity in India had/have majority of that particular ethnicity.¬†
01 JUNE 2012 | 11:21 PM NST
15. Sunita Tiwari
I think this was written by Kanak Mani Dixit and the name somehow got exchanged with Ms. Mahato.
01 JUNE 2012 | 1:07 AM NST
# 14fg wrong
West Bengal has more than 90 per cent Bengais. Tamilnadu has more than 95 per cent Tamils.Andra has more than 90 per cent Telegu. Kerala has more than 95 per centMalayalams.Almost all the states have more than 85per cent of their number.The states of India were ¬†in existence in some form from the past and again regrouped in linguistic way later.It is only in urban centers like Kolkata,Mumbai or Chennai that they have cosmopolitan population. Otherwise in villages they have one group speaking one languages. Of course they have tribals but they too .This is in sharp contrast with the Nepalese situation.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:05 AM NST
Unsocial socialists and communal communists are the bane of Nepal.
01 JUNE 2012 | 3:08 AM NST
Great article Rubeena! Ethnic federalism is just not sustainable and people need to stop the rhetoric and start thinking of its structure and if it is doable in Nepal. Dividing the country in ethnic lines is the worst that can happen to us.
02 JUNE 2012 | 12:20 PM NST
holy crap!! i just wasted some few minutes of my life reading this crap..nothing of substance..the writer herself seemed disillusioned...yeta na uti ...bhakhra ko kaan jasto..
02 JUNE 2012 | 5:15 PM NST
a piece of crap..it reflects nothing real, far away from reality..come on times u sud recruit sum¬†genius journos who knw journalism..¬†
02 JUNE 2012 | 6:57 PM NST
21. kamreds are really going red with the article.
There is one thing common in all those comments against the article: lack of justification. Guys and girls justify when you criticise someone for something.
kamreds are really going red in the face¬†because of this column. Thanks Rubeena you did a wonderful job.
02 JUNE 2012 | 7:01 PM NST
22. anita khadka
while i might not always agree with all of Rubeena's arguments, calling her names and being downright obnoxious while hiding behind the safety of the web makes you all big fat losers and cowards.¬†
if you really want to engage in healthy debate or even express your utter dislike of this article/author do it through your twitter or facebook accounts. cha himmat? At least show the courage that Rubeena has shown by ¬†presenting her arguments with her REAL name in a real paper. ¬†
02 JUNE 2012 | 7:05 PM NST
23. Flexible 1
As usual, no debate, no discussion. You all are like our politicians, lots of shouting, no listening! We get what we deserve, we are no different from our elected ones!
02 JUNE 2012 | 8:21 PM NST
Bravo Rubeena. You have hit where it hurts the most. It takes a lot of courage to say things like this.
You must not stop. Keep up the brave journalism. Others in your profession have sold their souls.
02 JUNE 2012 | 9:33 PM NST
25. Harey Ram
I thought the columnist just wrote what we talk about and accept all the time. And yet, there were so many strange comments on the piece. If this is a reflection of the well read and intelligent Nepalis, god, somebody should save us.
And yes, I have been scouring the Twitter feed and nobody has personally written such extreme comments via their accounts... ¬†I would assume such flamboyant displayers would at least have a twitter account.¬†
No wonder our country lives in such a sorry state of affairs.
03 JUNE 2012 | 11:37 AM NST
26. Flexible 1
#25 Harey Ram, all the well read and intelligent Nepalis (except you and I of course!) stopped writing on forums long ago because of all the abuse they get and the lack of abuse filtering by the media.
03 JUNE 2012 | 1:42 PM NST
Firstly... I would like to say Rubeena as a journalist you have shown bravery and honesty despite what ever the criticisms from various political or ideoloical corners. Also a very nice profile picture, a far better improvement to the more serious looking previous one, this one compliments you better.
Secondly... I agee, alot of the problems currently faced at the moment, was due to utopian dreams and ideology by a special few with no real practical basis. Unfortunately, the utopian dreams have bred out ethnicists and racists who are stoking further unrest. Now politicans who are claming for seperate ethnic states or one pradesh and madesh i.e carving up of the country does not even batter an eyelid from the media or various groups. How absurd is that? Hopefully common sense will prevail and people will calm down with the racist and extreme rhetoric. Ultimately, we need to live together in peace and that means listening to each other more and accepting intelligent well thought out views which can be different to our own.
Thridly... I agree it should be the Nepali population who should decide in a free and fair manner how this conutry should be i.e federal state or not etc...
Finally.... The CA has turned out to be a very expensive BIG QUANGO. It didn't result to anything and still won't result to do anything. We need a parlaiment not a CA body to run our country to sought things out now in a responsible well meaning way. The writing of the constitution as a solution was always an excuse and tactic used by CA members to distance themselves from current problems in the country.
Well written Rubeena, just be careful about attacking the Maoists in the manner you have, depsite your correctness, they are an easy bunch to blame at present.....
03 JUNE 2012 | 8:44 PM NST
Your leaders have already sold nepal to china, now only thing you are waiting for is a real way road from tibet. then you will have your new leaders from china. What is going on in tibet is your future dream. Chinese will beat nepalis just like your stupid polices are beating tibetans. There is one in tibet the chinese can't tale away that is faith in them, but you don't even have that. I love you all.
03 JUNE 2012 | 2:38 AM NST
Well written column, Rubeena.¬† Hopefully federalism as an idea is not tarnished from being dragged through the mud as ethno-federalism.¬† Properly implemented,¬†federalism offers great hope for loosening Kathmandu's complete dominance over Nepali life.¬† While ethno-federalism is a prescription for Nepal to join the ranks of Somalia as a violence-wracked failed state, a federal republic composed of strong multi-ethnic states could move attention and development away from Kathmandu to the rest of the country.¬†
04 JUNE 2012 | 10:10 PM NST
30. Sherpa Observer ...it may be best to let people decide for themselves. A referendum would allow Nepalis to directly vote for what they think is best for them. Let the people decide, not the pundits, they have always displayed more common sense and compassion....
NC and UML delivered the coup de grace. Period! These two rotten and visionless parties never cease to retain their ancient values of keeping the Bahuns and Chhetris on top. As long as these NC and UML remain in political business of Nepal our country is not going anywhere but remain stuck in the deep mud of confusion. Political deadlocks, centralized power, bahuns and chhetri's dominance in all the administrative positions, how long? How long can we go like this? There are 20-25% of Bahuns and Chhetris (minorities) ruling over more than 65% of Ethnic Janjatis (Majorities).¬†
@ Rishav: You say Nepali Population should decide in a free and fair manner...¬†
Yes, that's what we are talking about. When you say Nepali population, it should include Newars, Sherpa, Tamangs, Tharu, Magar, Gurung, Limbu, Rai, Chepang, Girel, Thakali, Manangi, Maji, Yadav, etc. and not just Bahuns and Chhetris.¬†
When power is shared, all ethnic Janjatis are considered equal and given power to make decision, then we will all live peacefully as Nepali. We ¬†can't be complete Nepali as long as our right to speech and right to govern ourselves is held in the hands of those few Bahuns and Chhetris.¬†
05 JUNE 2012 | 8:26 AM NST
31. Sherpa Observer
Stop such crappy sub-titles. Speak the truth. Speak about the majority and not minority.¬†
In more than 20 years of Democracy since 1990 where have our country gone under the leadership of these NC and UML? Did they have any vision? Did they achieve anything? Did they work for the poor? Who have benefitted the most? The answer is BAHUNS and CHHETRIS. Who are the corrupt ones today? BAHUNS and CHHETRIS. Who are the corrupt leaders? BAHUNS and CHHETRIS. Who owns the papers and media? BAHUNS and CHHETRIS.¬†
I am sorry Rubeena Nepali have not yet moved on. Only BAHUNS and CHHETRIS have moved on. Rest are being ignored.¬†
05 JUNE 2012 | 8:38 AM NST
There is nothing crap about this article as some of the earlier remarks suggest. It is a well-written on. But yes, the other ethnicities have to be satisfied as well rather than giving a verdict on some body's favour.
05 JUNE 2012 | 7:22 PM NST
well said above
05 JUNE 2012 | 7:28 PM NST
In my earlier comment in #27
"Thridly... I agree it should be the Nepali population who should decide in a free and fair manner how this conutry should be i.e federal state or not etc..."
Which means All Nepali peopleto make this decision irrespective of background. No suggestion has been made otherwise...
From my earlier comment in #27
"Unfortunately, the utopian dreams have bred out ethnicists and racists who are stoking further unrest."
Quite evident from comments and views which have been left here on this site...