ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Consensus Stymied in Kathmandu

Powerful remnants of the old order refuse an understanding on state restructuring of Nepal.

The defeat of the Maoists and Madhesi parties, relegated to third and lower places in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) following the 2013 re-elections, had weakened hopes for a resolution of the outstanding issues relating to the state structure and form of government. The Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) – UML – who emerged as the victors, then championed the status quo – retaining Nepal as a unitary state with administrative divisions and no provinces. The CA naturally then failed to complete the constitution-writing process before its self-imposed deadline of 22 January 2015. The ruling NC and UML rejected any movetowards meaningful federalism which has been the popular demand of Nepal’s janajatis (indigenous people), Madhesisand other people who are not part of the elite and rulingclasses of the country.

The insistence of the NC and the UML on deciding these issues through a majority vote (the two parties along with others, such as the former royalists, have a two-thirds majority in the CA) negates the spirit of the constitution-writing process which has been predicated on a consensus on thorny issues. This has pushed Nepal’s polity towards a political crisis, with those who feared their demands would be suppressed, violently disrupting the CA.

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