RJP’s Demand For Multi-nation State A Recipe For Territorial Disintegration
Ritu Raj Subedi
Despite constantly losing its relevance in the national politics, the Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) has not stopped invoking the agenda of multi-nation state that seeks to dismantle the common national identity well expressed in broad terms, like ‘Nepal’ and ‘Nepali.’ In the recent two-phase of the local level elections, the RJP, a merger of six Madhesi outfits, saw their anti-poll rhetoric and activities turn to dust. The people simply rejected their siren call to thwart the local polls conducted in almost two decades. Waking up to its rapid decline, the RJP rushed to the Election Commission to register itself in a faint bid to stage a comeback through the electoral politics. But, its controversial statute, submitted to the EC, has obviously put itself in the firing line for the defective document has demanded for the establishment of multi-nation state, a dangerous recipe for territorial disintegration of the country on the ethnic lines.
The RJP statute has divided Nepal into three nationalities – Khas Aryan, indigenous ethnic people and Madhesis. It defines Nepal as multi-nation, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multicultural nation. Defining Nepal as a multi-nation state reveals RJP’s motive to eventually trigger territorial disruptions in the Nepali society. To bolster the divisive demand, the RJP leader Mahantha Thakur has been insisting that Madhes, with its own population, geography and language, meets all necessary criteria to be a separate nation. While advocating such an aggressive line, Thakur has also resorted to double standard. He insists that his proposition should not be understood as a secessionist demand. In its electoral manifesto, the RJP has demanded Saha-shasan (co-rule) at the centre and swoshasan (self-autonomy) in the province. It has demanded that provinces should be granted all rights, including the handling of currency, and matters related to defense and foreign affairs. However, it goes against the spirit of federalism if provinces demand rights to deal with the issues concerning the currency, defense and foreign affairs. As per the global practice of federalism, these are very sensitive issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the centre, not the provinces.
In the beginning, it was not the Madhes-based parties but the then CPN-Maoist that conceived of multi-nation state in Nepali soil. And now it has fully blown at the hands of the RJP. During its decade-long ruthless insurgency, the Maoist party exploited ethnic fault lines of the Nepali society so much so that it created cultural and social cleavages in the country that never saw ethnic and religious conflicts in its 5000-year-long unbroken history. After causing massive damage to the Nepali society, the Maoist movement is heading to perpetual decline following its disastrous performance in the recently held local elections that put the parent party, the CPN-Maoist Centre, in the distant third. The people have dumped the divisive ethnic ideology of Maoist Centre that has been smart enough to be the part of power politics by playing both ends against the middle. When the Maoist movement started in the mid-90s with most of its top leaders hiding in India, it first strangled the multiparty democracy that was trying to gain a foot. In the hindsight, it can be said that the Maoist ethnic agenda was experimented here at the behest of foreign powers with a sole objective of turning the Nepali society topsy-turvy.
And now the RJP has become a geopolitical instrument as it brazenly carries the secessionist agenda of multiple nation. The Madhes-based parties have concocted the myth of internal colonization of Madhesis to foist their egregious plan on the Nepali populace. It has become an open secret that the RJP leaders do not set its policies and programmes themselves. They rush to the Kathmandu-based Indian embassy to take counsel over the slightest domestic issues. This has increasingly become an eyesore for the people, who strongly detest foreign meddling in the internal affairs of Nepal. This has posed a threat to the national and territorial integrity of the country.
Going through Nepal’s history, it becomes evident that this Himalayan nation was never a multi-nation state. Neither will it be so in future. Nepal has been an independent state but it has been enduring bullying and hegemony from the big neighbour. It was never an imperialist, expansionist and hegemonic state. Neither did it colonise and subdue other states. The multi-nation states exist in an empire that rules over its colonized states. If many nations join and accept the rule of a state or an empire, it can be a multi-nation state. Nepal cannot be called a multi-nation state in either sense. When Prithvi Narayan Shah unified Nepal, he brought scores of principalities into a single state. This became possible because the people in the conquered states spoke identical language and practiced similar culture and religion. So, it was not imposition of alien ideas, values and culture on the defeated states. Instead, they enjoyed cultural and linguistic rights and felt secured under the new rulers.
Take a stand
Nepali language, culture and religion have served as the lingua franca of Nepalis living inside and outside the country. When a Nepali visits a foreign nation, s/he first identifies as a Nepali, not as a Khas-Aryan, Madhesi or Newar. Nepali is a common identity of all Nepalis. Almost all Neplalis understand the Nepali language, which is also the native tongue of around 60 per cent Nepalis. Dividing Nepal into mini identities on the basis of ethnicity, language, religion, gender and territory is foreigners’ ploy to take the country to pieces. Now it has become urgent for all, specially the independent intellectuals, media and civil society to take a stand against this diabolic design.