How Inclusive Nepal’s Political Parties are?

January 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm Leave a comment

How Inclusive Nepal’s Political Parties are?

Assistant Professor, Lal Babu Yadav, TU

During and after Jana Andolan II (April 2006), a number of political issues and agendas including inclusive democracy have been raised by the major political parties of Nepal. After the restoration of House of Representatives in 2006 and formation of the government, the government and the mainstream political parties have reiterated their faith in various main agendas: negotiate with Maoist and bring them into mainstream politics; frame interim constitution and form interim government including CPN-Maoist. Moreover, election of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and restructuring of the Nepalese state with special emphasis on federalism, proportional representation (PR), electoral reforms (ER) and inclusive democracy. However, the issue of inner party democracy had been frequently raised even before second the Jana Andolan but the political parties in practice failed to encourage proper representation of the marginalized and vulnerable groups and minorities. As a result, they have remained as the disadvantaged groups (DAGs) and powerless so far in Nepalese politics and accordingly, the women, Madhesi, Jananati and Dalits remained underrepresented in every layer of governance and decision making process.

Analysis suggests that Hill Brahmins, which consists only 12.7 percent of the total population of Nepal, have larger representation (50 percent) in all three major political parties (NC, CPN-UML and CPN- Maoist). The next dominant groups are Chhetris and Newars which constitute 17 percent and 5.5 percent of the total population respectively and occupy 13 and 7 percent respectively. The above mentioned three groups, which, constitute only 35 percent of the total population in the country have obtained 70 percent in the central committee’s members in the three major political parties. While only 30 percent of the central committee member posts go to the 65 percent of the population. Similarly, women who consists more than 50 percent of the total population obtained only 8 percent of party posts is pitiful in terms of their population of the Nepal. Madhesi Representation obtained only 7 percent in party posts when their population consists of 33 percent, Janajati constitutes 37.2 percent of the total population but occupies only 13 percent of the central committee of the major three political parties. However, Dalits comprised 12.9 percent of the total population of the Nepal and has only 3 percent representations.

The NC, CPN-UML, and CPN-Maoist are major political parties and they can play significant role for the inclusion of DAGs in the decision making process in the polity. These parties have insignificant number of the representation of DAGs in the central committee. However, these DAGs are continuously raising their voices for inclusion. They think that inclusion is an important aspect in democratic theory and practice. The past 13 years in Nepal have also showed that violence was and still associated with exclusion of these DAGs. The role of these DAGs and marginalized groups in peace, democratization and development is emerging as the main agenda of the day because none of these processes can become sustainable in a real sense without including them. But one critical prerequisite to such inclusion is the question of inner party democracy or their inclusive representation among the political parties, which is emerging as another major agenda after Jana Andolan II.

Latest data reveals that the status of inclusiveness within these parties is far from adequate. These parties are exclusionary in terms of the representation of women, Madhesi, Adivasi, janajati and Dalit. These DAGs are being traced back mainly to the domination of the Hindu elites in the evolution of the Nepali state and their hegemonic role in existing power structure and the patriarchal culture of Nepali society. In any democratic political set-up even participation of all linguistic, socio-cultural, ethnic, regional and religious minorities and groups is must. The goal of stabilization of the democratic values cannot be realized until and unless the political parties themselves encourage inclusive democratic values within their organizational networks and activities. The exclusion of women, Madhesi, janjati and Dalit and other ethnic minorities has resulted in violent outbursts in different parties of the country. The political parties as representative institutions have to encourage their participation in the party structures, in the government mechanism, and in constitutional and other bodies such as the National Planning Commission etc.

Some of the political parties have raised the issue of inclusive democracy and state restructuring very seriously in the Post-April 2006 period. They are saying if needed even by introducing the system of reservation for excluded groups till they become able to stand on their own feet. Though, NC-D has touched this issue in their central committee, other parties are yet to steps towards it. Nepal is a constitutionally declared multilingual, multiethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural pluralistic society and inclusive democracy thus cannot be encouraged without the adequate representation and participation of these groups. The political parties after Jana Andolan II have made some provisions to encourage the concept of inclusive representation (IR), but they are not enough and have to be effectively promoted in future realizing the needs of the present political scenario. The political parties also have to play a significant role in discouraging the discriminatory polices and practices of the state and in introducing and encouraging the concept of IR in their organizational network and policies, if needed, through reservation in their membership structure. (e. g. in the Central committee).

The Interim Constitution-2006: Inclusive democracy and political parties

With the clear promulgation of Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2006, the concept of inclusive democracy and state restructuring ending all types of discriminations existing in Nepalese society remained an agenda. But the beginning of Madhesi movement in southern plains and the Adibasi janajati and Dalits in all parts of the country in 2007, has raised some serious issues regarding the participation and representation of these groups in layers of administration and decision making process. The present government has attended to positive address the ongoing movement in Terai and other parts of the country. The seven parties’ coalition government and CPN-Maoist leadership held several rounds of serious discussion and displayed their political acumen ship. As a result of Rt. Hon’ble P.M. Koirala’s in his address to the nation, more particularly the agitating groups, has proved to be solacing event and hence became a historical declaration in the annals of modern Nepalese history. In reference to this, a ministerial level committee was convened by Mahanta Thakur, Ministry of Agricultural is constituted to hold dialogue and to find lasting solution to the on going agitation. (FFA, 2007;1)

But the political parties’ have to adopt some practical measures in resolving the issue in the changed political context. The participation of the marginalized groups including women, Madhesi, Adivasi Janajati and Dalits in the current interim parliament/Legislative shows that overall, the representation of excluded groups in Interim parliament/legislative is dismally low. Out of 329 members of the Interim parliament/legislative, the women, Madhisi, janajati, and Dalits occupy 17.6, 21.6, 15.5 and 4.6 percent respectively. The CPN Maoist has given adequate representation, that is, 37.3 percent to women, 25.3 percent to Madhesi, 22.9 percent to Janajati, and 14.5 percent to Dalit which is comparatively better than NC and CPN-UML. Moreover, without the representation of CPN-Maoist in the interim parliament, the inclusion of the excluded groups would be even more piteous than what it is now.

In the major political parties the supreme leaders are dominated by Brahmins and Chhetris by 31 and 38.6 percent respectively. Likewise, Newar, women, Madhesi & Janjati are represented by 7.6 total. Madhesi, Women leader belongs to the Nepal Sadbhawana party. The Dalit which constitutes 12.8 percent of the total population has no representation. The inclusion and even participation of the marginalized and vulnerable groups, the powerless and voiceless DAGs in the mainstream politics, and in all layers of governance and decision making are the burning political issue in Nepalese politics which have to be addressed very practically in the changed political context, particularly in the light of the on going Madhesi movement in one hand and the movement of the Dalits and Adibasi, janajatis on the other.



Entry filed under: Articles.

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