Leadership failed to follow principle of inclusivity, ruling party leaders sayInclusion, equality, social justice have been the constant refrain of Nepal’s political parties, but they hardly practice what they preach.
Tika R Pradhan
Inclusion, equality, social justice have been the constant refrain of Nepal’s political parties, but they hardly practice what they preach.
On Monday, when the ruling Nepal Communist Party announced conclusion of its unification—the party was formed after the merger of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)—Chairman KP Sharma Oli promised to follow the principle of inclusive democracy.
But a look at the list of leadership in district committees, an understanding on which ultimately led to the conclusion of the unification, shows woeful representation of women, Dalit and Janajati members.
Of the 77 chairpersons appointed for district committees, only three are women—Munu Sigdel of Makwanpur, Ruku Lamichhane of Kavre and Madhu Adhikary of Lamjung while Som Maya Rai of Ilam is the only woman secretary selected.
Two district committee chiefs—Pravu Hajara of Parsa and Yam Bahadur Pariyar of Chitwan—are from the Dalit community and 19 are from the indigenous community.
Some leaders have expressed concern over negligible representation of women, Dalits and Janajatis in the party committees, saying the top leadership has failed to abide by the party statute. The party’s interim statute states that all the committees will have at least one-third women representation.
“Leaders have failed to show honesty once again,” said Sashi Shrestha, a central committee member, who has been fighting for ensuring inclusivity in the party. “They did not implement the existing provisions in the party statute that guarantee one-third women representation in all committees.”
Though several party leaders refrained from talking, concerns, some said, have grown in the party over underrepresentation of women, Dalit and Janajati members as two co-chairman—Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal—are already facing criticism for taking unilateral decisions.
“We will press the leadership to ensure inclusiveness. All sections of society should have a fair representation in new committees,” Pasang Sherpa, a central committee member in the party and former chair of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, told the Post.
The problem, however, is not only in the district committees.
With only 75 women in the Central Committee, many have questioned the legality of the Nepal Communist Party, saying the Election Commission demands 33 percent women representation for any party to get registered with it.
Clause 15 (4) of the Act on Political Parties-2073 states that at least one-third women members must be represented in all the committees of the party.
For the registration of a political party, Article 269(4c) of the constitution has clearly stated that there must be a provision of such inclusive representation in its executive committees at various levels reflecting the diversity of Nepal.
The 441-strong Central Committee has 21 Dalit members. The Dalit community accounts for 13.2 percent of Nepal’s total population.
The 45-member Standing Committee has only one Dalit member—Chhabilal Biswokarma. Only two women have made it to the Standing Committee—Asta Laxmi Shakya and Pampha Bhusal.
There is no women or Dalit representation in the nine-member Secretariat—the party’s highest body. It has only two members from the indigenous communities.
Women have immensely contributed in Nepal’s major political changes. The country has earned accolades for ensuring 33 percent women representation in Parliament. But many say this provision is being followed only because the constitution demands it.
Reluctance to follow the principle of inclusivity, however, is rampant across the board, as none of the parties has ensured proper representation of women, Dalits and Janajatis.
Last year’s election is a glaring example. Only six women were elected to 165-member Parliament under the direct election system. This makes just 3.64 percent. Women were sent to Parliament under the proportional representation system, as the constitution has made it mandatory.
The Nepal Communist Party, which claims to be a progressive party, however, failed to include women, Dalits and Janajatis in its committees, multiple leaders told the Post in phone interviews.
“We call ourselves a progressive communist party, but we have failed to follow inclusiveness. Women and Janajatis are sparsely included and the number of Dalits is negligible. We are supposed to lead by example, but we are not,” said Shakya, one of the two women standing committee members of the party. She said the party must come up with separate criteria to ensure proper representation of women, Dalits and Janajatis in the committees.
Another woman lawmaker, who also represents the Dalit community, said she is not optimistic about the current leadership following the principle of inclusion.
“Going by the trend the party is following, I don’t think this leadership will follow the principle of inclusiveness,” said Anjana Bishankhe, a central member and lawmaker. “Leaders are busy picking their near and dear ones based on factional politics and they have nothing to do with the ideology, principle and inclusiveness.”