Field Bulletin Issue 42 - Federalism Discourse in three districts in the Eastern Region
When the draft Interim Constitution of Nepal became public in December 2006 it prompted protests from many quarters, most notably Madeshis and Janajatis. The document was prepared by the Seven Party Alliance (SPA)1 and the Maoists, without broad consultations with other actors, in particular the Madhesi and other ethnic groups. Madhesi civil society groups, like the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), the Nepal Sadbhawana Party (NSP) as well as Madhesi parliamentarians across party lines demanded explicit commitment to federalism, an electoral system which would have had a greater percentage of seats allocated on the basis of proportional representation and redrawn electoral boundaries. This would, in their view, have been a more equitable system.2 Despite the objections, the Interim Constitution was passed by the legislature‐parliament on January 15, 2007. Immediately, the MJF and the NSP organised protests demanding the amendment of the Interim Constitution and the establishment of the entire Tarai as one single province. The protests quickly spread across the Tarai and turned violent in many places.