Nepali Times
By The Way
Fooling some people all the time


The ghosts of past failures finally disappeared and the three parties struck a deal that had been eluding them for four years. On Tuesday, the parties removed a final hurdle to broadly agree on all outstanding issues. But this agreement is driven by the sole purpose of avoiding a void on 27 May, nothing more.

In the name of a compromise, the parties have left gaping holes in the form of governance and state restructuring that have been the sticking points during negotiations. On governance, there is a fundamental divide between those who believe traditional parliamentary system did not work in Nepal because it led to instability, and those who think a directly-elected executive will solve that problem. The compromise agreed is a 'mixed model' which is going to cost this nation even more dearly in the near future.

If stability was the concern it would have made more sense to give executive powers to a directly-elected president or prime minister and make them accountable to parliament through strong checks and balances. This was not about stability, but rather about securing the ambitions of a few men at the top. In a country like Nepal, where rulers have yet to learn how to play by the rules, the 'mixed' model will only lead to a de facto and de jure power struggle.

On state restructuring, the compromise looks even more ominous. After poring over maps, the leaders arrived at a 11-state model based on multi-ethnic identity, but the entire exercise seems futile because they do not have the numbers to back their decision in the CA.

I spoke to Prithvi Subba Gurung who heads a cross-party caucus of Janajati lawmakers, and thinks this is a ploy to divide the Janajatis. He warned, "The leadership must not force us into an action that is going to leave everybody bitter." Even the Madhesi Front which was part of the agreement has now protested the inclusion of Jhapa, Sunsari and Morang in an eastern Tarai province, the exclusion of Chitwan from central Tarai and consolidation of Kailali and Kanchanpur into the proposed Seti-Mahakali region.

Overnight after the agreement, the 'Akhanda' movements throughout the country against large ethnic enclaves fizzled out, leading to speculation that this was all about saving electoral bastions of influential leaders, and not really about saving Nepal. The three Tarai districts in the east have traditionally been the stronghold of the Koirala family. Chitwan is home to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, while Kailali and Kanchanpur are the constituencies of influential leaders from three parties, like Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ramesh Lekhak, Lokendra Bahadur Chand and Lekh Raj Bhatta. Needless to say, all are non-Madhesis. The tacit support these leaders gave to the Brahmin and Chhetri samaj during the agitations proves this.

To be sure, besides concerns about ethnic confrontation, ordinary Bahuns and Chhetris took to the streets across the country because they had reasons to fear they would become second-class citizens in future ethnic enclaves. "This has been one of the weaknesses of our movement, we just could not convince our fellow non-Janajati brothers and sisters that we are only claiming our own rights, not trying to take theirs away. We would never want anybody to undergo what we ourselves have suffered for so long," Gurung told me. He blames the media for demonising the indigenous movement.

It was actually the parties who used the media to polarise public opinion to increase their own bargaining positions in negotiations, and when that failed they took the dangerous gamble of polarising the streets, provoking each side to neutralise the other. These are the seeds of social unrest that could plunge the nation into another conflict, the one with no ideological or political basis and driven only by deep hatred and intolerance.

After Tuesday's agreement, one side has vacated the streets, but what happened in Dhangadi last week shows how far the leaders are prepared to go to fulfil their personal and partisan interests. Nepal's problems are far from over.

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1. Sriram Singh
Too many speculations in the media, including this writer, who seems to form his opinion based on his conjectures. Another CK Lal in the making. I will try to ignore his column from next time. For the first time in the last many years, these people have agreed to something and we will definitely have a draft constitution in hand, if not, at least will be tabled in the CA. The eleven state model is the best thing that has happened embodying a multi ethnic representation, agreed by the janjati and madhesi leaders themselves. Yes Tharus feel like the worst losers but what do they expect, a state of their own when they are living in the same region which is heavily populated with other ethnic groups? Why don't the Tharus ever talk about the Dalits who had it worse than any people in this country? And yes, blame the baluns and chettris for everything. Don't forget they are also disadvantaged in many ways. 

2. nepali hypocrite
how? could you be more elaborate, lordy?

3. Binu
Its shameless Bahun Chettri's apprehension of loosing status quo that that is responsible for the present day rot.

4. Suman
Its more Bahuns than Chettris !  The Bahuns have been de facto rulers advising the Ranas and Shahs. They are a communal bunch and racist. Now they are afraid. you know, all good things come to and end, someone should tell the Bahun rulers of Nepal that.    

5. Rajaram
#4Suman.                   But Newars have been serving as insiders for the Ranas and the Shahs......

6. DG

The map is a good compromise except that Nawalparasi should have been attached with Palpa as both are Magar related habitats.

7. asha
Nepali bigryo India ko noon ra pani khana le! Chokho aatma leeyera rati ko 12 baje hiddha pani kasai ko dar nahune desh laie, kuhiye ko netaharu le gardha aja aaphnaie didi bainee daju bhaie dekhera duranu parcha........ 

8. Roshan
#5. Rajaram

Your idea of newars serving shahs is totally baseless. Pure newars had never ever served those rulers. But yeah, some pradhanaghas may have served as their surname suggest. But the pradhanaghas are not pure newar but they got accustomed to newar and are now categorised as newar as they have customs, language and culture of newars. But only very very few of them had served as such.

But your generalization of newars serving has no proofs. We have live examples to prove you that how bahuns were insider to ranas and shahs. Many our good bahun friends have confided us how they got lands in kathmandu valley only by virtue and mercy of those ranas and shahs. This is not hoax, they are from real accounts of our friend's father. His forefathers dont belong to kathmandu valley, his three generations even have not yet passed for settling valley.  

9. Bahun
[Comment moderated]

There are lots of bahuns who are very poor, uneducated and haven't had any access to anything. Mostly these bahuns are uneducated. There are so many janajatis who have reached to top enchelon in the society. President of Nepal is Madhesi, DPM is tharu, Commander in Chief is Gurung, Peace ministry is Pun- janajati. 

Look at USA, they have simple constitution which is very straight forward and people from all over the world many more ethnic background come and live in harmony. Why can't we do that in Nepal. Have US been divided on basis of ethnicity. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)