Kathmandu: The nation appears to be witnessing probably the first large protests against the current political system of federalism and secularism in the country in the capital today. Durga Prasai, a businessman with controversial track record, has been leading the protest.
Experts, however, have said that federalism per se is not to be blamed for current state of public frustration. We did not go into federal set up because we were a divided state or freshly independent state, we were already a nation state, said Purna Man Shakya, a senior advocate. “We went into federal state to strengthen unity, to address the issues of exclusion, to ensure equal opportunities of all citizens in governance, development and wellbeing,” he said. Citing that the promises made by the federal system have not been realized yet, he said that centralist mindset is to be blamed for no-performance, rather than the federal system itself. “Problem is the bureaucracy, they are not willing to and ready to devolve powers to the provinces and local levels,” said Shakya.
Kalyan Shrestha, former chief Justice of the Supreme Court, attributed the centralist mindset of the politicians as well as the bureaucrats for the failure of the federal system to deliver as per the people’s expectations. “We ended up becoming a centralist federalism, rather than becoming a federal federalism,” Shrestha said. “The center tends to control resources and everything.”
Shakya and Shrestha expressed their opinions during International Conference on Federalism, Devolution of Power and Inclusive Democracy in Nepal and Asia. Organized by the Kathmandu University School of Law (KUSOL) with support from Subnational Governance Program (SNGP) implemented by The Asia Foundation under a strategic partnership with the Australian government, the conference drew participation from constitutional experts, practitioners, researchers, policy makers, political parties, and civil society members from Nepal, South Asia, and the Asia Pacific region. The two-day conference will conclude on Thursday.