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Nepal

Nepal’s festival of lights and the current election rivalries meet at a certain point. The meeting point is the common Nepali psyche where everything rests either eerily or in total peace.

 

One of the main reasons behind the failure of the first Constituent Assembly (CA I) was its composition. The Nepali Congress could not digest the outcome of the 2008 election, which reduced it from its prime position to a distant second after the UCPN (Maoist).

 

With the insurgents, politicians and civil society stalwarts working in unison to destroy the country’s prospects in wealth creation and employment generation, the departure of labour migrants and the educated middle class only escalates.  

 

Nepal is everything but a secular country. It is difficult to understand how a country where religion is still all-pervading and where the political realm is so overloaded with religious symbols can be called ‘secular’.

 

It is understood that as per integrated security plan, about 62,000 personnel from the Nepali Army, about 54,000 from Nepal Police, 22,000 from Armed Police Force, and over 44,000 temporary police force will be deployed during the election. It seems that the Election Commission and the government have panicked at the anti-election declaration of the agitating parties. Such heavy deployment creates doubts whether we are going to fight at the polling booths or casting votes.

 

Politically seen, Nepal is in a weird situation. It has had neither a Parliament nor an adopted Constitution for the past 15 months, and is currently being guided by an Interim Constitution (2007). How did the Himalayan nation arrive at this juncture?

 
While setbacks in the constitution writing process seem to overshadow the general discourse about Nepal’s future, there has not been enough celebration about successes in the peace process. Sikandar Tharu of Adharsha Amuwa, Rupandehi district, was an ex-combatant of the Maoist army. He lived in a cantonment and was trained as a soldier until he was discharged as a late recruit in 2010 along with other verified minor and late recruits (VMLR).
 

At present, when discourse should focus on the model of the federal system to be adopted (which was the bone of contention in the erstwhile Constituent Assembly), attempts are being made to falsely project the practicality of the federal system. We have come a long way and questions regarding the necessity of federalism have become redundant. Naturally, eyebrows will be raised on why we shouldn’t debate the relevance of federalism in a small country like Nepal. 

 

Identity-based federal politics evidenced the formation, reformation and even deformation of the political structure of parties. Single identity v multiple identities became a major contested political agenda which shattered the CA and divided society. However, not a single political party has been able to come up with specific alternate proposals and programmes for federalism that could potentially minimise misunderstandings.

 

The paucity of information to properly address important questions must be viewed critically by Nepali historians and political scientists attempting to understand some of the historical factors behind even the current weakness in Nepal’s foreign policy and the apparent lack of tradition to chart a long-term geo-strategy. 

 


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