While penning this peace views and events regarding the peace process and state restructuring are changing so fast that it has become near impossible to keep abreast of events for any meaningful analysis to take place. Take for instance the stance of the political parties that keep changing like the weather. The latest we heard was that the political parties had struck a near deal on 11 provinces. Only to hear the next day that such was not the case. Though the leaders are ever careful not to spell out if the federation would be along non-ethnic lines, they are now saying that whatever the number of provinces, they would reflect multiple identities (?). It is more than evident that the leaders are passing the buck on the yet to be formed states, that states decide the name of that particular province.
Frankly this can never be, as dominant ethnic groups in that state will hold sway thus paving the way to more conflicts, but this time at the state level. This is a likely scenario that is bound to emerge in almost all the states leading to further chaos, violence and uncertainty. If the hardship and injustices that the common Nepali people undergo today on a day-to-day basis are to be carried over to state levels – and that too under a federal multi party dispensation – the absurdity is likely to remain one of the country’s most bitter ironies. This is likely to be more so given that the situation in Nepal is such that both locals and foreign political observers feel a palpable absence of trust between the people and those in power on the one hand and between and among the political parties on the other.
To elaborate the case in point, it is not only the people in general but even leaders who doubt a timely statute. Leaders of political parties, some of them even members of the Constitutional Committee of the Constituent Assembly, express doubt as to whether the constitution will be promulgated within the May 27 deadline. The principal stakeholders keep on parroting the need to forge an agreement on the issue of federalism if they are to meet the CA’s deadline.
A responsible leader of the Nepali Congress party is even on record for saying that he doubts "whether the new constitution will be promulgated in time and that even if it is it will not be a full fledged document as it will have many shortcomings." As far as federating the country on ethnic lines is concerned saner leaders feel that restructuring the state on the basis of ethnicity alone would have a long term effect on the constitution. That issues like ethnicity, language, geography economic status need to be considered while deciding on a prickly issue like federalism. That all Nepalis regardless of their ethnicity should in future be able to live in peace, dignity and harmony in a federated province of their choice.
Some leaders not only support the above contention but even go further to say that the country would get a constitution before May 27. Some leaders express reservation that the new constitution would be ready within the deadline. A leader of a Tarai based party alleged that a couple of leaders and not the CA members are having a final say on the constitution. Some also doubt whether the new constitution would address people’s aspirations. A civil society leader is of the opinion that "the constitution, which should have guaranteed the rights of the people, has become a bargaining point for political parties to further their interests."
Whatever be the case, common sense (which unfortunately is not very common) among the leaders should prevail even at this late hour and bring out a constitution that could possibly act as a shock absorber and address prickly issues that could possibly surface at a later date. Moreover, it is also imperative that the document to be promulgated address the country’s rusty electoral process, thereby making elections meaningful and democracy sustainable. The change in the electoral process should make, as far as possible, the country’s democracy young and vibrant by creating conditions by which young, dynamic, educated, and responsible People’s Representatives may emerge. Though it may be too late to form an all party body, consisting of members from all political parties, civil society and human rights organizations to oversee the criteria given below, it will, however, be in the country’s interest if our leaders involved in the constitution making process also include in the constitution the provision to revitalize Nepal’s electoral process in that those contesting elections:
Be Nepali citizens, born in this very country. Hopefully this will instill in the candidate a love for the country.
Bear a good moral character. The political party concerned must guarantee for the integrity of the individual. This should help minimize corruption and criminalization of politics.
Be a graduate, if not, at least an intermediate in any discipline. Considering that forged academic certificates have created havoc in the country’s educational institutions, bureaucracy and the civil service, the concerned political parties must guarantee the authenticity of the certificate submitted.
Be below 65 years of age. The age factor is crucial and should help the younger generation within political parties to emerge on their own. At a time when the compulsory retirement age is less for government employees and those in educational institutions respectively, it is imperative that those manning the country’s Chief Executive post and other ministerial portfolios be young and dynamic.
Declare property and financial assets at the time of announcing his/her candidature and when the individual leaves office. Hopefully this will help minimize corruption at the political level.
Be allowed only two terms for the post of the country’s Chief Executive. This is crucial considering that it will provide opportunities to others, discourage nepotism within political parties and allow competent, younger, and more dynamic individuals to emerge to handle the state of affairs.