Sunday, January 18, 2009

What Shape Federalism?

April Revolution: One For World History?

The number one question I am asking as to Nepal's next constitution is will or will not Nepal choose to become a multi-party democracy of state-funded parties? That is the supreme question. The number two question I am asking is will or will not Nepal end up with a federal parliament that is at least one third female by law? If Nepal can take these two big steps, Nepal will have become the number one democracy on the planet, and the April Revolution 2006 and the two Madhesi movements together will have been the French Revolution for this 21st century. In becoming a multi-party democracy of state-funded parties, Nepal will have synthesized the two major streams in global politics in the past century, namely capitalism and communism. Communism failed for lack of politcal pluralism. Capitalism failed by deviating from one person one vote democracy.

Federalism: Contention On The Map

This is likely to be the primary contentious issue in the constituent assembly. The country has already agreed on federalism as a principle. But the shape and form of federalism is bound to bring forth much heated debate and discussions.

The two primary victors of the April 10 elections have been the Maoists and the MJF. The Maoists have been pushing for ethnic federalism all along. First they had a nine state federalism, that I modified into an eight state federalism in the map above. Why not a Khasan also? After the Madhesi movement of 2007, the Maoists decided to break up the Madhesh state into three and take Chitwan out of Madhesh altogether. That was their way of punishing the Madhesis for the Madhesh movement.

The MJF's One Terai, One State call is a call for geographic federalism. But it has not produced a national map, and it has not made any attempts to seek allies in the UML and the Congress, and the other smaller parties. So although it might have a winning formula, it has floundered fundamentally in terms of tactics.

The MJF, if it hopes to succeed in its One Terai One State demand, must take some practical steps and isolate the Maoists on this question. The MJF has to realize that the UML, and the Congress are also opposed to ethnic federalism. And if the MJF, the UML, and the Congress can come together, their geographic federalism proposal will carry the day, and the Maoist ethnic federalism formula will go into the dustbins of history as one of intellectual curiosity, and no real impact.

The MJF's call for geographic federalism will only succeed if it is part of a larger package deal which addresses all major issues for the next constitution. It has to talk of retaining the current 75 districts. It has to talk of 75 multi member constituencies for the lower house, and a completely proportional formula for the upper house. It has to talk of a four state federalism: Koshi, Gandaki, Karnali, Terai. It has to talk of a directly elected president. Whereas it would be okay to have unicameral legislatures in the four states, and Chief Ministers elected by those legislatures.

Transition Challenges

75 Districts

Those who are for geographic as opposed to ethnic federalism must work to preserve the 75 districts. The Maoists might push for a three level government - federal, state, local - so as to push their agenda of ethnic federalism. Those for geographic federalism have to push for a four layer government - federal, state, district, local - to counter that.

Geographic Federalism For Economic Revolution

The number one argument for geographic federalism is that it will provide the best platform for an economic revolution for the country. In a vibrant economy, people and families move around. A Nepali citizen should feel at home in any part of the country, not just in their ethnic enclaves.

Mantra: Economic Revolution
Proposed Constitution

In The News

‘Divided’ MJF mulls over leadership, reforms at GC Himalayan Times The statute draft reforms proposed for collective leadership under the able guidance of an individual. ...... Upendra Yadav, Jaya Prakash Gupta, Renu Kumari Yadav, Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, Sharat Singh Bhandari, Jitendra Dev and Nasir Siddiqui are members of the high-power panel.
Maoists Mull One-Man-One-Post Policy The 14 state councils include -- Kochila, Limbuwan, Kirant, Magarat, Tamuwan, Tamsaling, Newa:, Awadh, Bhojpura, Mithila, Tharuhat, Bheri-Karnali, Seti-Mahakali and Pravaas.
Dire Consequences if Govt Toppled: Dr Bhattarai
new directives, policies and regulations would be formulated and implemented at the village level after the formation of local bodies to expedite development works. .... the 123-MW Upper Seti Hydroelectricity Project and 600 MW Budhigandaki Hydroelectricity Project were on government's priority.
Breakthrough in Uma Singh’s murder case
One of the suspects is a Maoist cadre. While, the other is the commander of Tarai Ekta Parishad (TEP), an armed group in the Tarai. ...... TEP commander Mebi Lal Paswan was nabbed from Saghar in Dhanusha yesterday. “Yadav was arrested on the basis of Paswan’s statement ...... Dilip Shah, Maoists’ district in-charge admitted that Yadav was a regional member of the party. Enraged by his arrest, party cadres today blocked traffic at Malhaniya on the East-West Highway for two hours from 3 pm. ...... Paswan had been shot in the leg when he tried to flee during an encounter with the police.
Bid to rein in corruption in state organs The Administrative Restructuring Commission (ARC) will instruct the Ministry of General Administration (MGA) to collect the property details of government employees, who are working in state organs that are perceived to be prone to corruption. ....... Customs, land revenue and transport management departments are believed to be indulging in financial wrong doings. ........ “We also plan to draw the government’s attention to illegal practices of ministries and government offices as far as transfer of employees are concerned. The existing procedure is a blatant violation of the Public Service Act,” he added.

MJF closed-door session starts amid clashes between cadres NepalNews
Uma’s murderer has been nabbed: Minister Mahara
one of the prime suspects, Mebilal Paswan, who is affiliated with a little known outfit called Terai Ekta Parishad, has been detained and that he has admitted to murdering her.
MJF harps on Madhesh state
Kantipur Online, Nepal the new constitution should provide opportunities for the Madheshi people to be not only the country's President and Vice President, but also to be the Prime Minister and senior officers of the Nepal Army and the police. .... Jaya Prakash Prasad Gupta, also the Minister for Agriculture, stressed the need for strengthening the party's organization
Second day of MJF Convention resume
Closed-door session of MPRF begins
Republica, Nepal
Special session at MJF Convention delayed
Kantipur Online, Nepal
Special session delayed due to dispute in MJF
Kantipur Online, Nepal
CC meeting approve its working procedure, Nepal

'No dispute within MJF' Kantipur Online, Nepal
MJF second general convention to kick off today
MPRF convention set to re-elect Upendra Yadav as party chief Republica The third largest party in the ruling coalition that was on the verge of split just weeks ago is "one" again. .... the possibility of split has passed after the party leadership agreed to include more members in the central committee from the party dissidents.
MPRF decides to address differences after convention
MPRF at crossroads 52 party lawmakers ...... he nine-hour long meeting of the party’s lawmakers on Wednesday, which was called to settle the issue, saw extremely heated exchanges between the lawmakers, if not fist fights, while journalists watched bemused through glass windows. ....... all four from Sunsari and Saptari districts. Preparations complete for MPRF convention Republica About 700 representatives from 22 tarai districts and Kathmandu and Gorkha districts in the hills
150 MJF, Maoist cadres quit, form new outfit Kantipur Online, Nepal
MJF CC meet underway Kantipur Online, Nepal BP Yadav-led group and Bijaya Kumar Gachchedar led group
TMDP eying to cash in on intra-party MJF rift Himalayan Times, Nepal
MJF unity depends on Yadav, says Gachhadar, Nepal
MJF may quit Maoists-led Nepal Govt: Minister Yadav
Disgruntled Nepal Maoist leader to form regional Madhesi party
MJF will not split: FM Yadav, Gachchedar
Kantipur Online, Nepal Claiming that the recent debate in the party was a democratic exercise, the two leaders added that nobody had the intention to split the party. .... “If Yadav does not abide by the politics of consensus, the party will split.” ...“If Yadav does not abide by the politics of consensus, the party will split.”
Confused cadres feel MJF rift heat Himalayan Times
MJF will not quit govt: Yadav

Gachhadar Wants MJF to Quit Govt Himalayan Times, Nepal
Gachchedhar, Gupta claim MJF won’t split Kantipur Online
MJF ministers unhappy with govt's performance
Nepal: Three MJF ministers tender resignation
MJF President Yadav's whims unacceptable: Nepal Minister, Nepal
Russian Federation still a world power: Nepal FM Yadav
MJF pushes one Madhesh Agenda
Kantipur Online, Nepal
Minister Gachhedar, lawmaker Mandal manhandled by own party workers Kantipur Online, Nepal Scores of MJF cadres led by Tuluram Rajbanshi forcefully dragged Minister Gachchhedar, who won the Constituent Assembly polls from a Morang constituency, and lawmaker Ramananda Mandali out of the vehicle they were travelling in and misbehaved them ..... the MJF workers including himself were injured after the irate cadres knocked those who went for the rescue of the minister and lawmaker.
Nepal: MJF will not divide, FM Yadav, Nepal
'YCL, Youth Force creating security nightmares'
YCL, YF Derailing Peace Process: Yadav Himalayan Times
YCL, YF must be dissolved: FM Yadav Kantipur Online
Nepal coalition partners threaten to pull out of Govt Indian Express, India

MJF general convention kicks off in Birgunj NepalNews the third largest party in the ruling coalition Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) ..... the largest party of Terai ..... senior political leaders from Chinese Communist Party, Bangladesh's Awami League, and Indian parties such as Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party have arrived to participate in MJF's convention MJF General Convention kicks off in Birgunj Kantipur 1,500 party cadres and observers from 25 districts ..... special session will take place on Sunday and the election of Central Committee (CC) members on Monday. ....... there is no dispute regarding the leadership, Joint Chairman Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta said. ...... Yadav’s nine-page report stresses on the demand of “One Madhesh, One Province.” ....... the statute-related draft calls for provision of appointing all the CC members and the party chairman through election. ...... Four MJF leaders representing the party in the government have clarified that there are no differences within the party. ...... Chairman Upendra Yadav, Joint Chairman Jayaprakash Prasad Gupta, parliamentary party leader Bijay Kumar Gachchedhar and Renu Yadav

The Madhesi street Nepali Times
"Why?" We know Uma's father and brother were disappeared and killed by the Maoists when her family resisted Maoist attempts to grab their property. She wanted to pursue the case, but the culture of impunity has meant that those killers remain scot-free. ...... "If they had been arrested, this would never have happened. No one is scared here," her close friend and Siraha colleague, Rajesh Verma told us. We know Uma wrote critically of the Maoists. She had told some friends: "Journalism is a way for me to take revenge and seek justice for my family's suffering." ....... a major squabble in Uma's family. Uma's father was a landowner in Siraha's Maheshpur village, besides having property in Mirchaiya bazaar. The Maoists had captured it in the past, but some other family members were eyeing it now. These relatives had a cold relationship with both Uma and her mother. ........ Many in the Tarai feel that the state has willingly abdicated its responsibility to protect lives because Madhesis, not Pahadis, are dying. ....... As she was breathing her last on the way to Bardibas, Uma's only question was, "Why? What crime did I commit?" If she had stayed on as a meek, submissive woman in her village and accepted existing power and patriarchal norms, Uma may have survived.

Nepal: MJF CA members resign, President Yadav rigid in Kathmandu, some twenty-seven MJF leaders have submitted their joint resignation to the party general secretary Ram Sahaya Yadav from the post of the Constituent Assembly member.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Parmendra,

What Shape Federalism? Obviously, it is going to be the most important question that Nepal will deal with in next 2 years of constitution making. I am surprised though that you are now changing your position on the ethnic federalism. Didn't you support it before? And what happened to your call for a broader JaMaDaMa coliation? Your advise for MJF to build an alliance with NC and UML to ditch the aspirations of 38% of Adivasi Janjatis, the indigenous peoples of Nepal into a "dustbin" is disturbing. I am afraid, you are missing the whole point why people fought in the first place. Madhesis and Adivasi Janjatis did not fight to get rid of the monarchy alone or for bringing Maoists and MJF to power. They didn't come out on the streets in support for Janjandolan I and II for keeping things as they were either. They fought for fundamental changes and a truly inclusive nation.

It is not about "isolating" Maoists or building political alliances alone. The real question is whether Nepal will take this historic opportunity for building a just and inclusive nation or will it miss it and invite more bloodshed in the future.

Your weak argument against ethnic federalism is that people won't have economic mobility. In India, don't people move around for economic reasons in their ethnicity/language based federalism? In Nepal, the ethnic federal states will represent historic and cultural significance of a region but anyone can live there. Why can't we embrace and respect the history and culture of these regions as entire Nepal's culture and history? Nepal's diversity is its true character and it is beautiful. However, the past systems based on geography alone have not done any good for the majority of population. We now need to look beyond that.

The need of the hour is to open our minds and hearts and adopt a federalism that meets the aspirations of all Nepalis. We should build alliances based on what appeals to the larger population instead of only party affiliations like you have suggested. Are you forgetting how NC and UML were opposed to the Madhesi rights only until recently? If we fail to respect the aspirations of all peoples, it will be disastrous.

We can possibly compromise on a mixed federalism - part ethnic and part geographic as they fit. The real agenda is to decide on a federalism with broader discussions and consensus. It should not be decided just by a few elite politicians or parties.