8-14 November 2013 #680

Back to square zero

Interview with Chitra Bahdur KC, chairman of Rashtriya Janamorcha, and political analyst Dil Sahani. BBC Nepali, 2 November

Why are you opposed to federalism?

Chitra Bahadur KC:  Federalism is impractical in Nepal’s context because the administrative costs of sustaining such a system will simply be too high. It is strange how suddenly everyone is forcing the federalism agenda and people’s representatives are now required to write a constitution within the frameworks of federalism.

Dil Sahani: If the Nepalis want federalism, they should get it.

Major political parties are pushing the federalism agenda as if it is a magic wand that will solve all of Nepal’s problems? What are your views?

KC: Suddenly the debate is centred on ethnicity-based federalism, but they don’t reflect what the people really want. The whole uproar surrounding federalism has already done much harm by stoking communal violence. Yet certain political leaders continue to drive forward their agendas without consulting the people’s representatives. They seem least bothered that local elections haven’t taken place in 16 years and are fine just hiding behind the federalism mask. They still want power concentrated in the centre.

So are regional and ethnic identities not important?

Sahani: Both identities are necessary, but it is all about how we manage them. Right now, federalism is inevitable for Nepal, although there are many who oppose it on principle. Regarding the country’s future, it is not federalism but people’s awareness on key national issues that will decide how Nepal will fare.

How do you think the federalism debate will pan out in CA-2?

Sahani: Parties are driven by their personal short-term gains rather than the spirit of nation building, so we can expect a lot of disagreements on the assembly floor, but we cannot take the next big leap without embracing federalism. In the end, regardless of how we decide to govern the country it is the leadership that matters.

Listen to the interview