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Mounting Problems

editThe conclusion of the second phase of elections to local government Wednesday (yesterday) will have brought the bulk of the country theoretically under local government. The second phase saw it possible under stricter security supervision than in the first and the third phase is due in a little over two months after the promised constitutional amendments. Local level empowerment has been the prime allurement for participation whipped as it has been also by the monopoly organizations that seek to justify the past decades of constitutional non performance. The danger is that the prime motive has been more the implementation of a constitution stuck in its own contradictions than the actual devolvement of real power to the local levels. Indeed, we are already now enmeshed in, because of the elections already held, the practicalities of the devolution which will press the system with more demands. The fact is that the current power monopoly in the country is centralized, it is individual- centered and it is this very monopoly that denied the country its right to local rule for the decades since they usurped power through elections and then through the Maoist movement.
The contradictions are already unraveling. For the first time in the country’s long electoral history, the country saw a thrice- postponed election schedule prompting yet more postponements and then a new schedule demanding a third phase whose tenure is impinged on a constitutional amendment yet in the making. The complaint after the reintroduction of the multi- party system was that the system could have seen less partisan approach to local elections and that the less-pluralistic approach at the local levels reacted in the success of the stern partisanship of the Maoist movement. The party central leadership’s intervention in alignments and the choice of candidates to the local level was itself a glaring contradiction to be defied through various ways by the grass roots. This has already compelled a change in the leadership’s control over the local nominations in the second phase. Theoretically thus financial and administrative personnel to be disbursed by the center for the newly elected to overlord must see tensions impacting on the success of local government. The tragedy is that it is the same political leadership that made dormant a two-decade old local self-government act that now champions more power devolution to the grass roots while still retaining their stringent centralized organizational powers. It is possible to foresee a systemic strain that is bound to unravel imminently. The haste to implement a long delayed constitution has already seen the newly empowered bereft of the legislative measures required to see a Singha Durbar at the very door steps. The vacuum is real, especially when one conceptualizes the fact that the local level polls must be followed by the polls to the created federations and the central parliament prior to which the role of the district and the new ‘confederations’ must be actually legislated. So far the fast tract polls have sought to sideline these actual intricacies. The devil is in the details. And then there is a time line. All these contribute to the adamant environment of uncertainties that the holding of the polls seek to diminish.

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