Following the dissolution of the CA, all the political parties, as expected, have started the blame game once again for the body’s failure. The opposition parties, to buy time and come clean before the people, are now skilfully taking advantage of the void created to mobilize their party organizations. A talk programme held at the Yak and Yeti hotel, organized by the government based parties and attended heavily by journalists, intellectuals and civil society members was chiefly aimed at squarely laying the blame on the opposition parties for the demise of the CA.
Quick to retaliate, the political parties in the opposition impatiently awaiting their turn, namely the NC, the CPN-UML and some 21 other parties, staged a mass meeting at the Khulla Manch in Tundikhel in favour of consensus and against "Maoist authoritarianism." Obviously, government bashing was the name of the game and was evident right from the start. Though the mass rally turnout was less than expected, the leaders through fiery speeches did however succeed in making their point and painting the government (Maoist and Tarai based parties) as villain of the piece.
Not to be left behind in the blame game the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal also held a mass meeting the very next day at the very same place. Amidst a more than expected turnout, Kamal Thapa, its leader, besides taking pot shots at all the major leaders of the political parties, whether in the government or in the opposition, claimed that the demise of the CA had made it imperative either to hold fresh elections or revive the 1990 constitution which also entails the institution of Monarchy.
What is especially interesting as of now is the course that the current Nepali politics is taking. Ethnic politics now seems to be the name of the new game. Some recent developments that have taken place in all political parties are clear pointers in that direction. For instance, dissatisfied over the working style of the party Chairman on grounds that he had grossly compromised on Madhes interests, the nine central committee members of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Loktantrik announced their resignation and have decided to form a new party.
The CPN-UML leadership though firm in its support of multiple identity-based federalism also faces the danger of defection from senior Janajati leaders within its own ranks who in contrast stand firm in support of single identity-based federalism. The disgruntled Janajati leaders have even boycotted several party meetings as they feel that the UML leadership is in no mood to accommodate their demands.
The voices against single identity-based federalism is gradually on the rise within all major parties in the recent days and the trend is bound to tremendously weaken internal party structures. The UML and the NC who have long been advocating for multiple-identity federalism in sharp contrast to the UPCN Maoist, and the Madhesi Morcha are most likely to face an exodus of numerous Janjati party members within their rank and file as well. That the CA elections in 2008 gave rise to Madhes based regional parties and that considerably weakened the power base of the NC and the CPN-UML in the Terai region is another case in point.
If elections were to be held again, there is every possibility of further erosion of the power bases of major political parties that have in the past dominated the polls. This is a clear indication that there will be further increase of ethnic political parties in the country based on identity and recognition. It would be naïve on the part of Maoist and Tarai based leaders to suppose that the same disease will not afflict their parties in the not too distant future. That the Maoist party, for instance, comprises mainly of diverse ethnic groups from the hill and mountain regions and Terai based parties also consist of those who have over time migrated from the hills to the Terai, are also clear pointers in that direction.
That the above argument will seriously disrupt the current voting trend in the forthcoming elections and is most likely to challenge the political dominance of Bahuns and Chhetris holds plenty of weight. The contention that the demise of the CA was not due to the stubborn stand taken by the Janajati and Madhesi based people/parties but due to the arrogance of the Bahun-Chhetri elite and their desire to continue dominating Nepali politics is hard to refute. That all major political parties whether it is the NC or the CPN-UML, or for that matter other minor political parties mostly have Bahuns and Chhetris at the helm of affairs further substantiates the case in point.
The argument that Bahun-Chhetri groups from all camps ranging from Hindu monarchists and communists to socialists and democrats are badly outnumbered with a 30:70 population ratio but are desperately closing ranks is also making the rounds. That earlier, 70 per cent population was badly divided therefore it was easy for the 30 per cent to rule the roost; that with the social inclusion movement, 70 per cent is bracing itself and getting organised; that for ages, the Hindu based caste system with its concept of untouchability and a rigid caste hierarchy introduced a system of divide and rule to the advantage of the Bahuns and Chhetris at the top rung of the social ladder; that the country with a secularism agenda will now render it unworkable etc. also stands on solid grounds.
As the unfavourable population ratio referred to earlier as well as the migratory trend of people from north to south and east to west within the country, is another distracting factor for the Bahun-Chhetri group as they are thinly spread all over the country. Therefore, chances of bagging a majority in election appears very slim. Since the federal concept has been adopted/guaranteed by the interim constitution, no power/political party can now retract or go against the concept and this includes the Bahun/Chhetri dominated political parties. It is therefore, imperative that political parties sooner than later arrive at an agreement regarding the number of federal states.
With ethnic politics on the rise, votes in future polls will almost certainly fall on ethnic rather than on ideological lines. Therefore, the logic that higher the number of federal states more the chances of Janajati dominance in the polls, and why the Bahun dominated political parties are opting for less/fewer federal states makes a lot of sense. Against the above backdrop, the political fate of Bahun/Chhetri leaders with their constituencies in the Terai in the forthcoming polls will be determined only by time.