Friday, April 07, 2006

Constituent Assembly: 300 Seats Of Roughly Equal Population

"There is no logic to supporting the King," Richard Boucher, the United Statets undersecretary of state for south Asia told reporters in the Indian capital, New Delhi, this afternoon. "He has done a travesty to democracy."
There are people who claim the idea of a constituent assembly is too vague. It is not vague at all. This is what I propose.
  1. Divide the country into 300 constituencies of roughly equal population. The population of the largest may not be more than 5% of the smallest.
  2. Disregard all political boundaries when drawing the constituencies. It is okay to cross district boundaries, for example.
  3. Make the constituencies the shape of either a circle or a square, or close proximations. No rectangles, no funny figures.
  4. And then hold elections. Each participating party must present a program as to their vision of a future constitution.
  5. The whole process should not take more than six months, and then another six months to draft a new constitution and subject it to a referendum.
  6. Before the elections are held, the all party interim government will be in place.
  7. Then there will be an elected government.
  8. After a new constitution has been accepted by the people, that assembly will dissolve, and will be succeeded by yet another all party government which will hold elections for the parliament under the new constitution.
  9. Then we are back on track.
  10. Nothing complicated at all.
Heck. If we could end up with 300 such constituencies, we might not even need the federalism that I have proposed in my Proposed Republican Constitution 2006.

There would be only three layers: the federal, the district, and the town/village. The head of state would still be directly elected. But I kind of like the three state idea, though. Kosi, Gandaki, Karnali. Someone would probably have to prove themselves as Governor of one of the three states before they would run for President. With three states, the federal governemnt could become an extrovert. Nepal could finally end up having some foreign policy of the activist kind.

In short, a constituent assembly is not complicated at all. Autocracy is complicated. Dictatorship is complicated. Democracy is easy.

Tactical Republican

Immediately after 2/1 I reached out to Dr. Baburam Bhattarai suggesting a common minimum program of a democratic republic. Then three months later after the king let the emergency expire, I eased a little. Over the next few months I tried to chalk up a proposed constitution that had room also for the king. I handed a copy of that to Sharad Chandra Shaha in person in New York City.

After the king wasted the four month long ceasefire by the Maoists, I went back to being a republican. And that is where I stand today. Although there was this brief period where I toyed with the idea of a conditional constituent assembly.

A lot of my friends have been unhappy I have not been republican in, republican out. I am happy for those political purists. They are ideological republicans. I have been a tactical republican. At least I have been transparent, and all my footprints are here at this blog.

I think my way is more productive though. A tactical republican is more likely to tilt the balance towards the republican idea than an ideological one. You are in a better position to carry people along.

Now I am at a point where even after the seven party alliance secures a constituent assembly, I am going to campaign and work for the idea of a republic within that assembly idea. I expect to be very involved all the way.

Astronomers, Stars

The journalist Martina Butler who interviewed me for German Public Radio a few days back asked me where I got my information. I said I have many sources, but primarily I get it all online. I also get some through email, phone calls, personal contacts, in person meetings, events.
We have never been to Mars, but we have a pretty good idea of that planet. And Nepal is no Mars for me. I grew up there. I gave a few years of my life to a political party in Nepal before I came to the US for college. I have been reading Nepal news on a near daily basis my entire time in the US. Especially after 2/1 I have been totally sucked in. And especially after my move to New York City last summer, I have done little else besides Nepal.

I am not physically there, but I have a pretty good idea. I read a lot. I am in the know. I am also in the loop. This blog gets read by a lot of key people in the democracy movement. I know that.

If this blog gets 200 or 300 page hits, that does not look like much. But to me it feels like I get to address a small political crowd that big every day. Now that is remarkable. Especially if that is the crowd of movers and shakers.

This blog is not journalism. This is political work. This is a new kind of politics.


The news from Nepal is good. People are out there. A few days back I wrote to some friends saying for the first time I was feeling a little nervous, a little jittery. I guess I was worried for the people who were going to brave the streets. Some would lose lives. Many would get beaten up. Many more will get jailed.

That sense of caution is still there, but by now I am much more optimistic as well.

The movement is on. That message is loud and clear.

Martial Law, Not An Option

Kamal Thapa and the king do not have that option. If they go for that, they are going to get deposed in a coup. The army is not the monolithic they imagine. The top brass mean only so much. This is no Pakistan.

For Kamal Thapa it is a choice between going to jail for a few years or going to jail for life. If I were him, I would watch my mouth.

Madhav Nepal, March 1

On March 1, Madhav Nepal showed up on my computer screen just like that. I was so totally not expecting that.

I posted the transcript of that chat at this blog a few days back. I felt it would help the cause.

He was under house arrest at that time. He had somehow managed to get internet access. I think he might have arranged to have it wireless.

What can I say? I was touched.

There is no way in hell I am going to forget that Madhav Nepal is in jail right now. It is more than jail. I think he has been sent off to some jungle, some kind of an army barrack.

This revolution does not need a king, does not need any dialogue. This revolution is sufficient unto itself.


BBC is more famous in Nepal and India than any other news service, especially true when I was growing up. I think I am about to go talk on BBC. And this is not BBC Nepali Service, this is the BBC World Service, so a much larger audience.

Anu Anand and Peter Van Dyk are at the other end of the line.

My youngest sister who lives in the city called me earlier excitedly. BBC is huge. My family is going to love this.

That and this will also help the movement. All air time on BBC is good. Anu, Peter, you have both my numbers!

India, US, Europe: Look The Devil In The Eye

The major democracies of the world have been playing a commendable role since 2/1. Lately even Japan has spoken right. Usually Japan tries hard to stay neutral. Even China opened its mouth supporting reconciliation. So, yes, thanks.

But these are not normal times. What is going on in Nepal is state terrorism. The April 6-9 protests are proof if any were ever needed that we have fascists in power in Nepal.

It is time for the global powers to speak up loud and clear. It is time for some action. It is time to kick ass.

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