The Report of the Commission is in Favor of Nepal and its People: Dr. Madan Pariyar

Dr. Madan Pariyar

The issue of state restructuring is one of the intricate subjects of the constitution writing and the ongoing peace process as a whole. Following unending debates, the political parties in the country reached an agreement to form a State Restructuring Commission (SRC) as stipulated in the constitution. The government appointed Dr. Madan Pariyar as the coordinator of the commission on December 6, 2011, and the commission under his coordination has already submitted its report. He previously served as the Member Secretary of the High Level Commission for Information Technology. Dr. Pariyar, who is also a board member of the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), talked to INFORMAL over a range of issues relating to the report prepared by the SRC and the issues included in the report. Excerpt:

What aspects were taken as the bases for preparing report by the commission? What kinds of suggestions were provided for the purpose?

The report of the Committee on State Restructuring and the Distribution of State Power of the Constituent Assembly (CA), the differing views included in the report and the views expressed by the CA members in the CA at different time were taken into consideration while preparing the report. In addition to these, suggestions from different organizations and personalities were also taken into account. The commission had organized discussions with different experts and had received suggestions from them. Similarly, the commission had reviewed related literature, study-reports and information for the purpose.

We face the unpleasant reality that most of the reports of the commissions formed previously for different purposes are not implemented. Do you think the report prepared by the commission will be implemented?

As the SRC was formed as per article 138 of the Interim Constitution 2007, the report will certainly be implemented. The commission was formed for resolving a very complex issue of restructuring state as such. The suggestions of the commission, hence, will receive a significant position and attention in the CA. I am sure that the report of the commission will be deliberated at length in the CA and be implemented by incorporating the views and suggestions given by the CA members.

The report of the commission faced mixed criticisms. It was even set on fire. How do you take these things?

All those concerned analyzed the report. I found out through the media that the report was opposed. Severe criticisms were received. However, many people are of the view that a good report has emerged. Some are in support of the report. The criticism and assessment are not unnatural. Largely, the report is in favor of Nepal and Nepalis. I think the commission has accomplished the responsibility assigned to it by the government.

The commission was formed to resolve the disputes that have emerged relating to state restructuring. Don�t you think the commission increased the disputes further rather than resolved them?

No, the commission’s report has not intensified disputes. The matter of restructuring the state itself is a complex issue so disputes were bound to arise. It is usual that differing views and thoughts emerge in connection with the issue. The commission was comprised of different figures from different sectors with different thoughts and expertise. It was natural for them to have opposing views. So, it is not logical to construe those views as a reason for the intensification of disputes.

Even some of the leaders of the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML commented that the expertise of the experts was not reflected in the report. What is your opinion in regard to the comments?

This is surprising. However, such comments do not hold true. The comments were not appropriate. All the members of the commission were appointed because they are capable in their respective fields. The political parties accepted them as capable at the time of appointment. It is surprising that the very members have been incapable for the parties now. While working with the members for two months, I found out that they were capable and possess expertise in their respective fields. So, I disagree that the members of the commission were incapable.

The political parties believed in you and appointed you unanimously as a coordinator of the commission. However, the concerned parties seem like they are not ready to accept the report. What’s your opinion regarding this?

I was chosen unanimously by the political parties. I am grateful to all the parties for that reason. I, from the beginning to the end, had an independent role in the commission. The report was prepared after the opinions and expectations of all concerned were considered and incorporated.  Hence, the report is good for the country and people.

You, initially, were of the view that the state should be restructured based on a North-South delimitation. Why did you produce the report based on the ethnicities living in the country?

I expressed my view through a media club roughly one or two days after I was recommended as the coordinator of the commission. The media did not accurately reflect my view. I refuted the false reporting immediately. I, at the media club, was asked what it would be like to demarcate the state in terms of a North-South divide. I responded to the question by saying it could be a good option. I had also stated at that time that all models for restructuring the state have both positive and negative sides. However, I was misquoted as saying that demarcation on a North-South basis was the best option.

People say that the report submitted by the Commission resembles the concept of the UCPN-M on state restructuring. What’s your say in regard to this?

I refute this accusation. We prepared the report after studying the report of the Committee on State Restructuring and Distribution of State Power and the concept paper of the NC and UCPN-UML, among others. It was only after reviewing these reports that we proposed the appropriate model. It is wrong to say that the commission’s report resembles the concept espoused by the UCPN-M on state restructuring.

Your report has also proposed a non-territorial Dalit state? Why was it necessary?

The Dalit community in Nepal is one of the most backward groups. Dalits are made to live a very backward life economically, socially and culturally. In the course of long deliberations held for restructuring the state, the issues of the Dalits, we felt, had not been taken into consideration seriously in Nepal. According to governmental data, the population of Dalits is almost 3 million, or 13 per cent of the national population. Other sources, however, claim that their population is 20-25 per cent. We had a realization while preparing the report that the Dalit community having such a big share should possess their own state.  We studied in detail as to which region can be a state for Dalits. However, it was difficult to locate a particular region as the Dalit community is scattered across the country.The population of Dalits in the districts such as Siraha, Saptari, Dhanusha, Baglung, Myagdi and Parbat, among others, is sizable. However, they are settled in small clusters. It was not possible to provide a state for them based on clusters. The population of Dalits in those clusters did not make even 10 per cent of the total population. Given the situation, the SRC came up with a concept of non-territorial Dalit state with an aim to address the long existing problems of the Dalits.

Disputes between the members of the Commission were exposed. As a result, there emerged two reports. What’s your say regarding the disputes between the members of the commission themselves?

It is untrue that two reports were submitted. It has been incorrectly disseminated that the commission submitted two reports to the PM. We submitted only one report. The report was endorsed by all nine members of the commission. The report, however, contains a section for differing views where the views of the members of the commission who were with diverse ideas on certain issues are included. This is a part of the democratic process. Differing views should be respected and given space. The report includes a section that records differing views of the members on different topics.

Some people also claim that a dispute arose among the members of the commission due to the weakness of the coordinator of the commission seen in coordinating its members and issues. Was that true?

The emergence of differing views among the members of the commission who have dissimilar ideologies, expertise and understandings is not unnatural in a democratic practice. It is unreasonable to expect ideas to fit together in all situations. I personally believe that to have expected uniform ideas from all the nine members of the commission would have been unrealistic. However, most of the decisions of the commission were reached unanimously. Some decisions were made on a majority and minority basis. The views of the minority members are accommodated as the differing views. Raising questions as to the capability of the coordinator of the commission is meaningless. My term in the commission was a success. The commission under my coordination accomplished the assigned tasks responsibly and successfully in time.  I am confident that the suggestions provided by the commission will be given due priority in the Constituent Assembly. The report prepared by the commission is in favor of Nepal and its people.