Nepali people have been carrying out vibrant and continuous struggle for the Constituent Assembly. The declaration by king Tribhuvan in 1951 to conduct CA polls was bypassed eight years later by his successor king Mahendra and instead announced to conduct parliamentary elections. Prominent leader of Nepali Congress (NC), late Bisheswsar Prasad (BP) Koirala, some factions of the then Communist Party of Nepal and other parties participated in the parliamentary polls bow-down their heads in front of the then king’s vested unethical interest and desire. The bitter fruit of the participation was borne after three years, as Mahendra staged a coup and established the autocratic so-called ‘party-less’ Panchayat system. After a lapse of 51 years, in 2001, CPN (Maoist) proposed for CA polls among other demands during the first talks with the Multi-party system government led by NC. However, the Deuba government out rightly rejected the proposal. Then the talks was broken. The ambitious King Gyanendra again staged a coup d’état by dissolving the parliament, ousting the mainstream political parties from power and house arresting the leaders in February 1, 2005. The political party leaders, ousted from state-power were quivering like fish without water, went to sign the 12-point Understanding on November 22, the key agenda of which was CA polls, so as to repair the ladder to power. The 19-day Popular April Movement II overthrew Gyanendra from his throne in 2006 and the mainstream political parties climbed the power ladder. The CA polls was scheduled for mid-June 2007, but was cancelled by the Election Commission because of lack of time. The polls scheduled for November 2007 for the second time was cancelled because the Maoists demanded for declaration of republic prior to polls. The third schedule was announced for April 10, 2008. There have been debates and discussions on whether CA polls would be conducted because of Madhes Movement. The key Madhesi organizations staged a strike throughout Madhes from February 13, 2008, which was ended through an eight-point agreement with the government on February 28, 2008. Those who were skeptical of CA polls due to Madhes crisis have become silent, as the Madhesi parties have registered their direct and proportional lists of candidates. UML was the first to form a Committee to draft the election manifesto, but CPN (Maoist) became as the first to declare on March 8, 2008 its 39 pages long document entitled ‘Public Commitment’. Maoists’ prime slogan is ‘New Ideology and Leadership for New Nepal’. It is divided into four parts.
§ End to commercialization of education and provision of free education till grade 12; education shall ensure a fundamental right; loan sanction without collateral to students for higher education§ Eradication of illiteracy within 5 years § Emphasis to Technical and polytechnic education§ Open University shall be established for the youths involved in 10-years war to have an access education§ There shall be at least one University in each Autonomous State§ International outstanding education and research centers in Agriculture, Forestry, Engineering, IT, Management, etc. shall be established also to attract foreign students§ Special initiatives to respect Martyrs shall be undertakenSpecial measures shall be adopted to promotion of sports from the schools and village
§ Implementation of Health for all as a fundamental right§ Free basic health services to all§ Special provisions to develop allopathic, homeopathic, aruvedic, unani and acupuncture/acupressure, natural healing and yog therapies shall be made§ There shall be allopathic, aruvedic, natural healing centers at each VDC§ Private and community sectors shall be encouraged to establish well-equipped hospitals in the tourism sectorExport of processed herbs instead of raw.
§ Guarantee of inheritance rights to women including special privilege in society, economy and all the agencies of State as well as equal participation§ Provision to include women along with men in the land deeds and citizenshipWomen, Family and Juvenile Courts shall be established.
The people throughout the world are anxious to know about the first-ever election manifesto issued by CPN (Maoist). It is obvious that everyone is interested to learn about it, since they entered the peace process after 10-year long armed struggle. This manifesto is radical in comparison to documents and/or manifestos of other mainstream political parties in Nepal, which has guaranteed all fundamental rights and freedom including social security. Their focus is towards the Poor, Marginalized, Disadvantaged and Vulnerable people together with destitute, elderly and differentially abled. However, the manifesto has raised not only the economic, social and cultural rights that tend to Scandinavian model, but also civil and political rights similar to world’s largest democratic country – India. It has nothing relating to foreign relations with countries other than India and China.
The Maoist’s 40-point demands of February 13, 1996 had focused mainly to nationality[i], people’s democracy[ii] and people’s livelihood[iii]. Their demands were more aggressive towards India. Although they are vocally still hostile towards India, their document is silent. In the past, they regarded I/NGOs as encroachment of impearlism and hegemonism. The manifesto neither has support nor has opposition to I/NGOs. The document is centered to positive discrimination based on ethnicity, linguistic and regional federal autonomy. In terms of languages, the model resembles more or less to Switzerland. Madhes has been divided into three sub-states linguistically that tends to Swiss style Federation where 64% Swiss are German speakers, 20% French and 6% Italian and so on. Germany is the official language where it is predominant in 17, French in 4, one Italian and 4 is a mix of German and French out of 26 cantons[iv]. In contrast to this, other languages are predominantly spoken in Madhes too. Maithili speakers are 12.3%, Bhojpuri 7.5% and 2.5% Awadhi in Nepal. Nepali speakers are 49%. Similarly, 6% speak Tharu. The deep cultural pluralism of Nepal consists of at least 61 castes, sub-castes, ethnic and sub-ethnic groups[v]. There are 102 caste/ethnic population, 90 languages and 10 religious communities[vi]. Professor Tej Ratna Kanskar advocates for 141 linguistic groups, but, Armit Yonjan, language expert, differs with 112 groups[vii]. But, the 2001 census identified 92 languages as mother tongue[viii]. The manifesto states that all the languages in Nepal are national and some federal autonomies are created based on languages. The public commitment is itself in contradictory. In that case, other languages have been discriminated against, could not this raise conflicts in future?After the recent past 16-day economic block to Kathmandu and general strike called by Madhesi regional groups, the inhabitants of Kathmandu including diplomatic missions are fearful. What would happen if this trend repeated again after the autonomy granted to the Madhes or Tarai without including hills and mountains? The capital is still not relaxed of petro-products and so forth due to Madhes movement.