The parties have failed to take the debate on federalism to the masses and don't seem to be taking matters seriously. The Maoists are clamouring for ethnic states, but have not defined what that means precisely. Just naming states after different ethnic groups is not enough. Will the rights of minorities be protected in such states? Will historically marginalised communities be accorded special privileges in such provinces? Is ethnicity the sole basis of identity? What about other identities? These questions have been left unanswered. The issue of viability has also not been adequately discussed.
Some people say federalism would be more viable if there are more states. But if the idea was to strengthen the centre against provinces, why did we need federalism in the first place? Having fewer states would actually help strengthen centre-state relation.
Under an ethnicity-based federal model, every group is entitled to states. You cannot give a state to Limbus and not give one to Khumbus. Trying to please all ethnic groups might work in the short-term and parties can bolster their vote banks. But long-term development of the country will be severely jeopardised.
Federalism could have been a very good model for Nepal, but the way our leaders are handling the issue, it is bound to be a disaster. Until parties become more honest and accountable, it will not matter what model we adopt. Things are not going to change. After all, the same political culture that will be reflected in our future states.