Nepali Times
By The Way
Coming back full circle



When the Constituent Assembly was dissolved at midnight on 27 May, there was general fear that the resulting vacuum would lead to anarchy on the streets. Hate speech on both sides was building up to an unpredictable scenario.

A lot has changed since then. Three months later, despite not having a new constitution the people are generally relieved that the tensions have eased and the country has moved on. There may be a political vacuum, the prime minister may be a caretaker, there may be no parliament and elections may be uncertain, but the people aren't complaining. Burdened by inflation, corruption, strikes, and power cuts even during the monsoon, most Nepalis are trying to just get by and don't seem even remotely interested in what the politicos are upto.

After sniping at each other for three months, the political parties have come back in full circle. They threatened each other, conducted competing mass meetings, and now the need for give and take seems to have finally sunk in. They may still snarl at each other through the media, but the leaders of the NC, UML, UCPN-M, and Madhesi Front know that ever since the CA was dissolved the country has been moving in the wrong direction.

The mutual hatred of the leaders, their clashing ambitions and larger than life egos have hindered reconciliation and dialogue. It is not that they don't realise the inevitable need to engage sooner than later, but the possibility of being seen as weak and losing electoral footing is a strong deterrence in politics.

The two volume report by International Crisis Group (ICG) released this week notes in summary that the whole exercise of the senior leaders in the last four years has been 'purportedly to save the peace process, but often about their personal futures or getting a share of the government'. It questions the role of the two oldest parties, the NC and UML, for refusing to engage with the broader social base and only appeasing particular caste and class. By creating an 'ethnic bogey' and fear mongering about identity, the two parties have done injustice to their own long standing historical legacy.

The young leaders within their own ranks have expressed displeasure over the way leadership has failed to clarify its position on federalism and contributed to the impasse.

After several rounds of lobbying, the leaders have agreed to sit for talks and Wednesday's all party meeting handed over the responsibility of deciding on the future of the CA to the same top leaders. But before they come to a decision, there must be an agreement on the issues that led to the demise of the CA in May, with a particular focus on federalism.

The debate on federalism so far has taken place from two extreme positions without sufficiently exploring the middle ground for agreement.

There is a need to address the genuine fears as well as misgivings about federalism on both sides and forge a middle-way that is acceptable to all. One way of doing this, the ICG report suggests, is by making future negotiations more inclusive and transparent. This is not a bad idea, since many democratic countries have provisions of broadcasting their legislative proceedings live in the media.

In the absence of an elected body, the all party meetings will take important decisions regarding the future of this country. So media coverage will not just ensure accountability, it may facilitate positive dialogue and prevent an endless blame game.

The politicians should know by now that there is no other legitimate way of promulgating the constitution except through a CA. The social movements that have kept democracy vibrant even in the absence of an elected body have underlined this.

The question is, are the alpha male politicians of this country willing to put aside their differences for once and seek a viable formula on identity federalism that is acceptable to all?

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1. Dev Batsya

It is a mistake to believe that just because an INGO like the International Crisis Group thinks a certain way,that it must be the whole truth.And  it would be plain foolishness to base national policies based on what an INGO thinks.At the heart of it, all INGO's are trying to promote the agenda of their donors.If they do not, their funding would dry up,and the bureaucrats running the agencies  would be out of their jobs.

The  foreign agencies and governments cannot be blamed for  trying to take advantage of divisions in Nepali society for their own strategic interests. Although the Indian policy in Nepal has been very short-sighted and self-defeating so far,it is in the long term interest of Nepal's immediate neighbors India and China to keep the country stable and conflict free.

However the strategic interest of others like the European Union is very different.Because they they do not have any direct stake in Nepal, they can play a high risk game to promote their interests,and keep the pot boiling.If things get bad in the country and the region,they can just walk away without suffering any direct consequences.

Thus the free advice  coming from various INGO's like the International Crisis Group run by people, who do not have to bear the consequences  of their actions needs to be always taken with a pinch of salt. It would make sense to look at an INGO's funding source to make a more objective appraisal of its  work. The link for ICG is:

The various agencies cannot be faulted for trying to promote their interest in a fluid situation before someone else does. It is upto   Nepalis themselves to learn to work together and find a common ground to save-guard their own and the country's interests.

2. Vija

''The debate on federalism so far has taken place from two extreme positions without sufficiently exploring the middle ground for agreement.''

My question however is,what is the approximate practical involvement of all people of Nepal involved in discussion on Federalism and most importantly on political orientation of the country as a whole ?

I would like to know the exact number of members of all parties to begin with to be able to compare the numbers in total involved in any kind   of political parties against the rest of the nation that is not involved in any political grouping ,which means, they have no idea what the parties are arguing about,as the rest of the people which is the most people of Nepal, want productivity,rights,selfactualization ,based not on diverse decisions at opposite poles.We by be are building a house brick by brick,political orientation of the country is what we will be seen in the world by others or are we gone be messengers between politcal players ,the role PM Bhattarai has chosen for Nepal after visiting Brazil.

I question the bunch of every party to be discussing the needs of the society,the choice of the society.Seems it is the ruling party who dictates what is going on in the country.

Dictates,that is what must not happen in taking decisions like did PM Bhattarai that chose to close down CA because his party as the ruling party at that moment was not able to compromise.Mr.Bhattarai thinks that proposal given by his party is the only one to be agreed with ,how is that called compromise and Mr.Bhattarai without any ounce of understanding blames the rest of Nepali parties for not being able to compromise.Mr.Dahaltherefore wasquick to take under his direct supervision all the rest 20 small parties to work on their political orrientation.I consider this unintelligent speech by Mr.Bhattarai as the PM of the country.It is not a problem solving attitude any PM must have. Mr.Bhattarai, if you in the roots do not accept the fact that most of the nation disagreed to your parties proposal.Is that a middle ground if the rest of the nation has to agree on your proposal????????????????

The whole problem of Nepali politicians lay in the chaotic approach to all the aspects of trying to organize the painful problems of the country and if something doesn't work according to ruling parties plans,the bone to distract the society is dropped in,so the politicinas without thinking blame each other until their anger subsides.Professionalism that is what is lacking in ruling parties decisions.Again and again we have to suffer because of the PM and ruling parties inability to be flexible.As on whole ,the decisions Mr.Bhattarai takes by participating in any international meeting or conference,doesn't represent the Nepal as the nation.His interview about his countries standpoint towards countries who develop nuclear energy and particularly Iran,is no opinion at all,as he represents Nepal as the country having no opinion,middle ground is his option.There are issues in the life where one must not stand by.I do agree the world is too huge to oversee and think about it at once,however,being a PM of the country and taking decisions,example: single handadly decides to stop the whole work of the country, makes him  the dictaror already,having no consideration what the rest of the country wants.So is he far from any other dictatorship regime in the world????????????


Political orientation of the country after whatever decision must be taken is what is needed to be discussed,not the Federalism,as Federalism will be based and all the laws in the Constitution will be based on the political orientation of the country and that is what Mr.Bhattarai,neither Mr.Dahal,neither ruling party as in whole want to give away.

I still remember words said by Mr.Dahal,that their party will not step away from the ultimate goal of their party ,no matter how long it takes and this is  the reason they are playing this double standard game,by hook or by crook.


3. smart ass

week in, week out, Anurag feeds us the same stuff, his bottom line seems to be: don't blame the Maoist party for anything that is wrong with this country. the few times that he concedes his favourite commies are in the wrong, he is quick to point out that there are bigger criminals we should rather focus on. 

this week he tries to take attention away from the constitutional mess his party has landed us in by claiming that ordinary Nepalis are not "remotely interested in what the politicos are up to". To me it seems Anurag is basically saying that it doesn't matter what shenanigans Baburam and gang are up to because the people simply don't care. Let them continue for however long it takes to come up with a 'consensus', the jaanta is fine with it all.  

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)