• Tuesday 21st January 2020

Structural? No, Functional

  • Published on: August 23, 2016

  • editFormer prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, as leader of the current Nepali Congress party, the largest party in parliament, is in a way, mentor of the incumbent prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, since it is with the Congress backing that Dahal toppled the UML government and elected himself to government. Deuba now tells his summoned conference of party district authorities that promised elections to the local levels, already nearly two decades vacant in our democracy, can only take place under provisions of the 1990 local units and not under that envisaged by the current constitution if it is to take place imminently. Perhaps more importantly, his is the first official critique of the envisaged local structures under the new constitution when he says that the concept clustering old village assemblies into some five hundred ‘Gaon Palikas’ is impractical since, even under the previous dispensations, many village offices took days to reach for the man in the village because of our real terrain . If this is the official party line, as one would presume it is since he leads the party even in parliament, and since his party provides the majority for prime minister ‘Prachanda’ in parliament, the statement suggests that it is the first official acknowledgement that procedural difficulties will prevent the holding of local level elections under the currently envisaged local components of the country. Furthermore it is the first official admission that the reorganization of local structures as currently being envisaged may be impractical. This is regardless of the fact that the reorganization of the village and municipal structures has had no public explanations, no public discussions and thus virtually no public participation except from that which emanates as party and government decrees.
    This massive error in national reorganization is akin to the disaster in unilaterally decreeing that the country shall take a federated shape in the constitution which led to the tarai movement and contributes to the current crises in implementing the constitution on grounds of what geographical delineations would compose the new federation. When push comes to shove, it is the people that are affected by such structural innovations and, when their participation is limited to endorsing arbitrarily delineated mapping, the people do ask questions of themselves. The tragedy of Nepali constitution making on the other hand is that the very party that is asking at this stage the practicality of remapping the local levels has only just conducted its student body polls, again much delayed, postponed and, at times, scratched, on the presumed regional changes prescribed by the new constitution which is so vigorously opposed in parliament and outside jeopardizing the constitution itself. The very presumption that structural tampering will remove Nepal’s under development, it must be stressed here, ignores fundamental analytical tools. When looked at with the approach of structural/functional analysis Nepali politics must find fault in the manner of political functions and not the manner of political structures. It is good politics perhaps to insist on structural changes since it covers up the massive gaps in political functioning. However, any amount of structural tampering can do little to correct the impertinence in political behavior and that is final.


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