Federal Glimpses


As federalism gets going, interesting scenes - good and bad- have been played out in the provinces that conducted their first ever assembly meetings amidst political fervour and fanfare.On the one hand, the provincial assemblies have rekindled the people’s hope for peace and prosperity, and, on the other,they also risk being instrumentsfor spreading negative tentacles in the society.

The latest episode is the burning of the effigies of the leaders of Federal Socialist Forum and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal in Janakpur. The local people got angry after these leaders used Hindi language in the first assembly meeting of Province 2. The local youths have demanded that the leaders speak Maithali, Bhojpuri or other native languagesbecause most of the people speak these languages in their daily life instead of Hindi in the Terai.Only a small number of people speak Hindi though it is understood by many because of the impact of Hindi movies and culture.

It seems that the Madhesi leaders want to please their Indian masters by using Hindi and giving a short shrift to the local languages. So it is natural for the locals to vent their ire against these leaders ready to do their bidding.Now it is evident that federalism is opening up a can of worms. First, it is the language. Then, it will be the capital and name of the provinces that might make the situation trickier and tense.

The victorious Madhesi parties also displayed the height of their parochial behaviour. They had an irrational anathema to the popular attire – daura-suruwal. No lawmaker dared to wear the daura-suruwal. Some Madhes-based parties even did not allow the marshals to put on daura-suruwal and Dhaka Topifor the male and sari, blouseand coat for the female.

The casting trailer of Province 2 seems to augur bad for its future. On the day of oath-taking, the language dispute poisoned the environment. Then, in its first meeting, some lawmakers created uproarfor not hanging the pictures of Madhesi martyrs in the hall. The proceedings were punctuated by a series of niyampatti (objections) of the lawmakersat every moment. As morning shows the day, childhood shows the man, goes a saying. The initial argy-bargy indicates that Province 2 has started moving into uncharted waters.

In Province 4, we saw a different scene, however. In its first meeting, some leaders paid tribute to Nepal’s unifier – Prithvi Narayan Shah. CPN-UML leaders Prithvi Subba Gurung and Kiran Gurung appreciated the nation’s founding father for unifying Nepal. Gorkha, from where Prithvi Narayan Shah started the unification campaign, is located in this province.

However, Krishna Thapa of Rastriya Janamorcha criticised federalism, terming it as expensive and unnecessary for the nation. He compared it with a bear that is tied with a diamond chain. He meant to say that when the bear is set free, it will go on the rampage. His remark triggered whispers and disquietamong the lawmakers.

The leaders in other provinces promised peace and prosperity to their people. Some even claimed to make their province a model in the country. But the provinces have not been granted more powers compared to the local units. So there is apprehension that the provinces might be converted into mere talking shops.

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