The issue of state restructuring has been sorted out after the State Restructuring Committee of the Constituent Assembly submitted its report. It is up to the CA now whether to accept the report or reject it. I don’t understand the rationale behind constituting an experts’ committee at this juncture. We know that there is a conspiracy going on against federalism. This is the reason we have threatened to violate the whip. I am not only a member of CPN-UML but also a member of a particular community, which gives me my identity. As a member of Janajati caucus, I have the responsibility to protect the interests of our caucus. There is nothing wrong to defy the whip if it is against my will and identity.
State restructuring remains a contentious issue as political leaders having a unitary attitude and an affinity with centralization are always against federalism and the question of state restructuring. This time also they attempted to block the process of state restructuring by proposing to constitute an experts’ committee. Since the federal provinces are to be formed on the basis of identity and viability, the issue of ethnic identity would certainly come up in the process of federalization of the country. There is nothing wrong with this. Our proposal to set up 14 provinces is very rational and viable. We have made every efforts to carve the country by balancing ethnic, geographic and economic aspects. Nepal is a country of janjatis and ethnic communities. If we deny this, restructuring will remain only on paper. Janjatis want to see establishment of their rights.
Although the Janajati caucus is against any kind of commission or experts’ committee to oversee the report of the State Restructuring Committee, we supported the move of the parties to set up the Commission on the ground that it will not override the committee’s suggestions. According to the Interim Constitution and CA Working Procedures, only the CA has the final say on the report of the State Restructuring Committee’s report. By amending the constitution, this government cannot impose any super body to nullify the report prepared by the State Restructuring Committee.
The country opted for federalism to end political and economic discrimination and for appropriate political representation and identity. I think the committee’s proposal of 14 federal states is based on the historical and geographical continuity. Frankly speaking, the commission can never encroach upon the jurisdiction of the sovereign committee, which is also a mini-CA. I don’t think there is going to be any problem on any issue as delimitation has been carried out and technical assistance will be needed while demarcating federal units.
Since federalism is needed for political representation, cultural and caste identity, social and economic access of the marginalized people and self-dignity, we are not compelled to obey the whip when the issue of identity comes up. We are ready to face any kind of action in defying the whip for our demands for the rights of identity. Nobody should be afraid of federalism on the basis of ethnicity and we should move from viability to identity and not vice versa. We have demanded federalism because it is for our dignity and identity.
As the government is setting up of the State Restructuring Commission, its mandate needs to be limited just to read the report and it should not have any rights to decide new things or amend the issues.
(Manadhar is a CA member)