CA and Constitution Making Process will be Incomplete without the Signficant Presence of Dalits

Nepaldalitinfo Commentary:

Nepal’s second Constituent Assembly (CA) Elections 2013 results have reduced the Maoists that had emerged from the first CA elections in 2008 as the largest political party, to the meager third position. The results also have rendered the major Madheshi political parties as miniscule parties.  The results that reflect the people’s current mandate and aspirations are clear indications that the mainstream people reject the proposal of dividing geographic areas for federal state restructuring of the country based on ethnic dominance,  as the Dalit intellectual leaders note. This is also the main point of defeat for Maoists, though it does not mean that they have lost in all counts- their agenda for elimination of monarchy and rights to self-determination of all ethnic and oppressed caste groups still live on as good as it could get.

Also, the current First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) CA election results in essence, especially for ranking of the three major political parties, remind us the situation of post-1990 parliamentary general elections except for two striking situational differences that Nepal is now a democratic republic with the monarchy gone for ever and the Nepali Congress (NC) standing first position again will not hold a simple majority in the legislature parliament.

In the context of Dalit representation in the CA for their self-determination, the whole process of the 2nd CA elections had defeated them by design right from the beginning, even before the election ballots were cast. Now  victorious Nepali Congress did not nominate even a single Dalit candidate for the FTPT direct elections. The number of nominees from Dalit communities for the proportional representation (PR) have been drastically reduced from previous CA numbers by all major political parties – NC and UML and Maoists. In the previous CA, there were about 50 Dalit leaders as CA members. The presence of Dalits in the 2nd CA are pre-determined to be much less to the level of their insignificant presence, and hence tantamount to an automatic election defeat of Dalits.

If the lessons from the results of current CA elections must be drawn for each of the three major political parties in the context of Dalit representation, the following emerge as ways out:

1) Maoists have failed in their agenda for state restructuring by dividing geographic regions based on ethnic dominance costing them a shocking loss in the CA elections.  Recuperation of Maoists from this loss is possible only if they consider themselves as the formidable voice for the voiceless marginalized people, especially Dalits, the most oppressed and marginalized people in the country. Maoists could show their continued commitment to Dalit empowerment, by nominating maximum number of Dalits in the CA through their PR quota. Maoists’ own presence in the CA is going to be counted largely by its significant number of CA members coming from PR route.

2) Nepali Congress and UML can no longer afford to be the political parties of status-quo. The people have given votes to them by reverting back to the default situation, finding no immediate hope for “real change” to happen from the Maoists that did not deliver as they have promised during the previous CA elections. Nepali Congress must fill all the gaps they have in the representation of various ethnic and socio-economic groups in the CA.  Nepali Congress must nominate maximum number of Dalit members in the CA from roster list of their PR nominees. Dalits have thanked UML making a history, as it is the only political party winning both of the CA seats, in which the only two Dalit candidates (Dal Bahadur Sunar, Banke-4 and Ram Dayal Mandal, Mahottari-3) got directly elected for the second CA. UML must also improve the presence of Dalits in their bench in the forth coming CA through its PR quota.

Without the presence of Dalits  in the CA in significant number, there will be a big void in the House, and the constitution making process will be incomplete, even if it is made through consensus or by two-third majority.


Marginalized groups secure lesser seats under FPTP

74-year-old Dalit woman contesting against Khanal

New CA likely to be less inclusive (News link added on November 29, 2013)

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