Parshu Ram Ghimire
Political Scientist, Nepal
Parshu Ram Ghimire, a political scientist and advocate, originally hails from Gulmi district of Nepal’s Western Region. Currently he is in Kathmandu and engaged in several academic and research activities related to peace and conflict, federalism, electoral process, democracy, etc. Already completed Masters in Political Science and a Bachelor in Law (BL), he has authored a number of books like Constituent Assembly for Restructuring of State, Constituent Assembly and Electoral Process in Nepal and has also co-authored Dalit in Constituent Assembly. His articles on contemporary political issues often get published in the leading national dailies of Nepal.
Sujit Mainali for the Telegraph Weekly and its online edition telegraphnepal.com talked to this emerging intellectual on several aspects of Nepal's ongoing troubled politics. Below the excerpts of this exclusive interview: Chief Editor
Q1: The slogan of 'Indivisible Far west' has galvanized the people of far west region of Nepal. What is the binding factor that has encouraged the people of that region to stand strongly for Undivided Far West?
Ghimire: I have conducted a number of research activities in the far western region of Nepal and I am familiar with the socio-political and economical aspects of that region. Two districts of the far western region i.e. Kailali and Kanchanpur have became the hotspot of demonstration and the campaigners of Undivided Far East and Tharuhat people are now struggling hard to bring these two districts under the territory of the province desired by them.
Kailali and Kanchanpur, which lies across the Karnali river, hold immense economic significance for the inhabitants of far West Nepal. At the same time, these two districts are deeply associated with the identity of indigenous Tharu community living in Terai region of Western Nepal since time immemorial. Kailali and Kanchanpur are the only districts that lie in the Terai belt of far Western region. Almost 80 percent of the total resources of these two districts are under the possession of the elite people from the hilly region of the far West. Dense forest, plain and fertile land of these districts has attracted the peoples from the hills and many Pahadi population have accumulated their properties there. Therefore, the people of far West are determined not to let these two districts slip out from their so-called Undivided Far West Province.
On the other hand, Tharu community has been urging for the formation of Tharuhat/Tharuwan provinces comprising at least of five districts of Western Nepal i.e. Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur. Dang district is all set to be included under Magarat province. Amidst this situation, when the campaigner of Undivided Far West began to demand Kailali and Kanchanpur districts to be ceded under their province, this has infuriated the Tharu community.
Q2. Problem of Kailali and Kanchanpur seems very serious. Do you have any idea on how to resolve it?
Ghimire: Every problem has its solution. Tharu community cannot share their day to day life with the Madeshi population. Better say, their psychology does not allow them to remain close with the Madeshis. They were living together with the Pahadiyas in a harmonious manner. Kailali is the resident of Dagaura Tharu, and Rana Tharu, who are believed to be the descendents of Rajputs who were living in Kanchanpur since long.
Tharus are the real Bhumiputra (sons of soil) and thus their aspiration for the recognition of their separate identity must be respected at any cost. Or else the state may lose their long prevailing fondness towards Nepali nationalism. The demand for the formation of Undivided Far West is reactionary in essence.
Q3: What is your suggestion towards the ongoing debate over the restructuring of State?
Ghimire: Two schools of thoughts now strongly prevail here- the first wants to make ethnicity the basis of the federalism where as the other have been opposing ethnic based federalism tooth and nail. Both are extremists and hence their prevalence may deepen the already intensified crisis.
I suggest making identity the basis of federalism. Until and unless the identity, access in the resources and participation of the deprived community is not ensured, a peace and harmonious society cannot be maintained.
Q4: Now let's change the topic of our conversation. Krishna Prasad Sitaula, a senior leader of the Nepalese Congress is often found; it is widely believed, reverberating the message of Delhi’s South Block. Is this a mere co-incidence or something else? Your comments please.
Ghimire: I understand the message underneath in your tricky question. India might have thought that their interest in Nepal will not be hampered by people like Sitaula and this might have made them to rely on him on several political issues. Sitaula is mediating and negotiating among the political actors of Nepal since the time of late Girija babu. The patience, tolerance and continuity inherited by Sitaula have made him trustworthy leaders of Nepal. If the international community wants to cooperate with such a mature and trustable leaders, I don’t see any reason to raise question against it. That’s it.
Q5: Why India is favoring the continuation of incumbent government led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai?
Ghimire: The Maoists have become the major internal security threat for India. New Delhi has arrived to a conclusion that their major external security threat will eventually come from the Chinese front, which is a neighboring country of Nepal in the North. In this context, India is looking for a reliable partner in Kathmandu who can curb the dual security threat (both internal and external) to India at least inside and from the Nepali soil.
The Indians might have believed that Dr. Bhattarai can be their reliable partner. During his Premiership, peace process has gained momentum and the extension of his tenure may make positive impact on the logical conclusion of peace process and drafting of new constitution. His access to the actors of every pillars of New Delhi, including bureaucracy, intelligence agency and political leaders inside government and opposition and his consistency while remaining engaged with them have heightened his personality in India. Dr. Bhattarai and Sitaula are overwhelmingly trusted by New Delhi in Kathmandu.
Q6: One of the senior leader of Baidya camp inside Unified Maoist, during the informal sharing with telegraphnepal.com, has said that sooner or later their camp will again 'brandish the flag of armed revolution' in this Himalayan region. How do you analyze his saying?
Ghimire: When the actors of the conflict once accept the peaceful resolution, as it happened in Nepal, they cannot go to the confrontation and struggle again with their previous scale and dimension. The hardliner faction of the Maoist too has known this general theory of conflict. This faction cannot galvanize their cadre with the same old slogan. At least I am convinced that not any considerable faction of the Maoist will again dare to wage armed struggle. If any faction opted to select this thorny path, they will be able to bring only a minor shake in the national politics. Take it for granted.
Q7: While Nepal remains now in a painstaking period, the Ambassador of China is nowhere in the political scene of Kathmandu. What might be its reason? He is missing. But why?
Ghimire: Ambassador Yang Houlan is reported to be in Beijing enjoying his vacation. However, I see his absence as the extreme manifestation of the “quiet diplomacy” of China. His absence shows that China is not happy with the incumbent government. The absence of Chinese envoy in this critical time is theirs having silent difference to the opposition of this government.
Q8: Why the Chinese are not happy with Dr. Bhattarai led incumbent government?
Ghimire: This government was formed after four points agreement was signed between Unified Maoists and the Unified Madeshi Front. This agreement has cautioned Beijing authorities.
Q9: Why Chinese are annoyed with the four point deal?
Ghimire: China believes that the Madesh based parties under the umbrella of Unified Madeshi Front are overwhelmingly backed by New Delhi. After the formation of this government, China has concluded that the activities of this government are largely guided by the interest of Madhesh based parties. This, the Chinese believe, has derailed the diplomatic balance which prevailed in Kathmandu since long. Whenever Kathmandu prefers to go too close to or too far from New Delhi, it worries China.
Q10: Who do you think is the reliable partner of China in Nepal?
Ghimire: China hasn’t foreseen any reliable partner after the commencement of peace process. India used to think Monarchy was the stabilizing factor of Nepal and its reliable partner. After Monarchy being sidelined, they used to prefer Nepalese Congress (NC). After the ouster of monarchy, NC loosed its strength and no reliable partner is left with Beijing.
The mainstreaming of Maoists and the commencement of peace process coincided with the dramatic increment in the activities of Free Tibet campaigner inside Nepali soil. Chinese have now concluded that any secret information shared with their Nepali counterparts will be eventually leaked to the third parties. Secrecy is very important in the conduct of diplomacy between two nations. Nepali diplomats have lost their faith in this regard.
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