One of the Southasian headlines last week had to do with federalism. The announcement by the Indian government of its plan for the state of Telangana in the present-day Andhra Pradesh created waves of sorts. A large team of state ministers resigned, claims for other new states – mainly in Uttar Pradesh – surfaced, and the ongoing struggle for Gorkhaland found reasons to feel betrayed.
Federalism is the ‘in-thing’ in Nepal these days. The Maoists have started declaring ‘autonomous republics’ in various parts of the country and they’ve already called a three-day general strike next-week, in support of their call. Why and how have the Maoist Party’s (UCPN- Maoist) earlier demands for states (rajya, राज्य) based on ethnicity transformed into the recent calls for autonomous republics (autonomous ganarajya, स्वायत्त गणराज्य) based on ‘nationality’ remains a mystery. The logic behind the demarcation of such republics appears:
- at best, to appease the voters in the form of underrepresented ethnic-minorities and
- at worst, arbitrary
There are disputes within the Maoist party regarding the number, nature and borders of such republics. Various other forms of autonomous states are also proposed by other groups, both heard and unheard of. Some fringe parties and groups have been protesting against federalism itself (and for highly decentralized governance) while others are demanding that to-be or not-to-be federal be decided by a referendum. Whatever comes out of this hurlyburly in Nepali politics is out of the foresight of an ordinary citizen like me.
Meanwhile, some people have demanded a “Kaanth” (काँठ) state (link in Nepali) in the areas surrounding the Kathmandu city. Disappointed of all the news surrounding the states and reservations for non Brahmin-Kshetri in all public-positions, the Brahmin-Kshetris (they are the largest ethnic group in Nepal) have started demanding (a) state(s) of their own. News of such demands from the far-eastern district of Jhapa (link in Nepali) and the central district of Chitwan (link in Nepali) were published last week.
In an unreported incident, two of my friends have, for the first time, announced plans for their own states. One comes from the Western region and the other hails from Kathmandu. Amidst a tea-shop ceremony yesterday, the Momoland (म:म: ल्याण्ड) and Tuppiwaan (टुप्पि वान) states were declared. Speaking on the occasion, they threatened to take up arms if their demands were neglected. They said that any attempts against their movements may result in separatist movements. In front of a very excited audience in the packed-room, the leaders released the initial designs of the flags for their states.
The leader of the Momoland Liberation Party informed me that the dumplings that give the name of the state will be the symbol of national-unity in Momoland, while the fatigue-dressed leader of Tuppiwaan National Congress said that his state will adopt monarchical system of governance. Both the leaders have agreed to join hands in their fight for self-determination and liberation. They have inked a secret deal with promises of mutual-cooperation between the two states and of joint-struggle if needed, against any outside aggression. As an insider, I know of at least one another point of mutual agreement: both the states will grant citizenship to any beautiful woman upon entry into the state, but such privilege will not be extended for a woman’s spouse, who could instead be exiled from the state at any time, without providing any reason. The leaders both the states will be engaging in further discussion next week and come up with further points of agreement.
- MoMo is a popular food in Kathmandu.
- Tuppi is a lock of hair left on top of the shaven head of a male Hindu priest.
- The term “ganarajya” गणराज्य, translated to English means ‘republic’, the Czech Republic is called Czech Ganarajya in Nepali- here’s a link to a Hindi-English dictionary translation.