Prime Minister Baburam Battarai frequently reiterates that he is a rubber-flexible figure when it comes to facilitating consensus among political parties but that is full of conditions, implying that consensus can happen only if the parties agree to what he or his party has proposed. His package deal consists mainly of the longstanding demand that the country be federated on the basis of single ethnic identity. He knows well that this was the iron-gate in which parties failed to get through, leading to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. He is knows well that NC and CPN (UML) would not accept his condition for consensus which could be an opportunity for fooling people to extend the lifeline of his premiership.
BRB’s statements that he is willing and working hard for consensus but other parties must agree to what he says for the consensus, has confused the public. This demands some pondering because consensus usually means compromises and comes unconditional. His conditions for the consensus cast doubt that he has been serious for it since he entered Baluwatar. At times, he says country will be in chaos if he steps down as if the rule of law and people’s pressing needs are well maintained and delivered now. Let’s pretend, as the PM of the country, he may want to address a serious issue which transforms Nepal from a poor country to a prosperous one. But again the issues he is trying to fix are not the ones which change the conditions of many Nepalis in any way. Actually, anyone who wants to transform Nepal in substance, there are other several burning issues than just naming the provinces for rhetorical beauty or visiting remote villages in the pretext of understanding the plights of the people as if he were the great Sultan who never met and knew these societies and people.
There are many pressing concerns of contemporary Nepalis which need to be fixed such as the issues of completing constitution, inclusive political representation, stable peace, united heterogeneous society and economic development. Can we achieve these pressing and ambitious goals by naming the would-be provinces into single ethnic names? If we could, there is no problem in naming them along ethnic lines but we are convinced by evidence that identity politics will not bring about desired changes.
Instead of getting stuck with the dispute over the name of the would-be provinces, focus should be on ensuring proper representation which means there should be political participations from all groups of people that reflect the mosaic spectrum of the society in the political decision making. However, it does not necessarily mean that competition and merit based selections procedures should be replaced in the name of inclusivity. As the PM of the country and a leader of his/her political party, a PM has to focus on other more pressing issues which really transform the lives of millions of people beside completing the task of constitution drafting. These significant issues such as bread and butter of poor, youth migration, health and environmental threats and many others that have been insulated with economic, political and social spheres must be addressed because these cannot be put on hold in the name of ethnic-line-province-naming. Nor can constitution drafting process be heldin hostage. If every writer or academician does not become bias and present the real picture of Nepal through their research, one thing is simply obvious that millions of Nepalis are living below the line of poverty or even below a dollar a day and it must be confessed that these poor are not only from indigenous groups. If the research is based on statistic counting, it will be found that the poor group comprises of all caste of Nepalis. The scheduled “untouchable” group could be the highest sufferer. If the power of purchasing and consumption is the motor of capitalism to measure the plight of the people, Brahmins and Chettris including others of the remote and rural villages of Nepal fall under the lowest rank since most of them are local farmers where they cultivate unproductive and rain-fed crops. Thus, the argument should not be framed as indigenous and other because no argument necessarily fits to the plight of every one of the group. Instead, the argument should be framed in such a way that no group’s interest are compromised or left out for the benefit of others. Historically, Nepalis have always lived in harmony.
A responsible politician should understand that the focus for New Nepal is to seek stable peace, harmonious society, economic development and prosperity for all. It does not matter which part of Nepal one comes from: Himal, Pahad, Terai: we all are Nepali.The so-called political leaders of Nepal are always mandated to accomplish these goals but the political culture is so decadent that they always seek to divide the society and rule. Many of these leaders are running after only one issue that is ethnic federalism as if the name change will bring prosperity in the country which is absolutely untrue. For the real change and prosperity, all Nepalese must be united because united we stand and we must tirelessly work towards achieving the goals instead of listening to meaningless statements of chameleon politicians and seasonal office bearers. Leaders must understand that political authority comes from the support of the people so if the people strip off their support political authority becomes null and void. Once upon a time ago elected politicians do not have right to claim that they still represent their constituencies. Thinking keeps changing and they matter therefore politicians need to change focus as the thinking of the people change.