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A New Phase? Nepal’s historic vote: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

A New Phase? Nepal’s historic vote: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

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High hopes ride on Nepal’s first parliamentary polls under its new Constitution
Nepal voted on Sunday in the first phase of parliamentary elections under its new Constitution of 2015 and with the electoral battle lines redrawn in a recently altered political landscape. The first round was mostly concentrated in the upper hill regions, with the rest of the country scheduled to vote on December 7. Uniquely for Nepal’s highly fragmented party politics, these elections witness a direct battle between two fronts. The first, the “democratic alliance”, is led by the Nepali Congress and includes the former Panchayat parties and Madhesi groups; the second, the “left alliance”, brings together, in a surprise agreement hammered out in early October, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). On the face of it, this is an electoral battle between the forces belonging to the centre-right and the centre-left, but to reduce it to an ideological battle would be misleading. The NC, the UML and the Maoists have been in power at various points in the last decade and have done little to distinguish themselves by way of implementing socio-economic policies or in terms of performance. The Constitution-writing process was completed in far too many fits and starts largely due to short-sighted battles for one-upmanship among these parties in Kathmandu since 2008. Populism dominates the ideological positions of the major parties and the politics of patronage has governed their engagement with the people. The consequence of this has been lack of movement on key issues facing the underdeveloped nation-state. One such issue that dominated the political discourse in the last half-decade has been the need for decentralisation and representation of the marginalised communities. Madhesis and janajatis (tribals) have continued to claim that their demands for adequate state restructuring and federalism were not met in the new Constitution. The new electoral alliances have subsumed such differences — with the Maoists, who were willing to grant such demands for amendments to the new Constitution, joining hands with the UML, which is strongly opposed to any concessions. Similarly, the Naya Shakti Party, a fledgling socialist party, has broken away from the left alliance and aligned itself with the NC despite significant differences over state-restructuring and other issues. The political flux has meant that vital issues of economic development have remained largely unaddressed, belying hopes that Nepal’s transition from a monarchy to a republic would foreground the people’s concerns. The clear contest, for the first time, between two pre-poll alliances may finally give an ideological and political shape to the republican polity as a battle of ideas, and mark a break from the years of squabbling over positions of power in Kathmandu. Clearly, the voters are not cynical: the turnout in the first phase on November 26 was estimated to be 65%. The politicians must now deliver.

LEARN VOCABULARY FROM THE HINDU EDITORIAL

1) Redrawn
Meaning: Draw or draw up again or differently.
Example: “the rota was redrawn”
Synonyms: Draw, Prepare
2) Landscape
Meaning: All the visible features of an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.
Example: “the soft colours of the Northumbrian landscape”
Synonyms: Aspect, Perspective
3) Fragmented
Meaning: Break or cause to break into fragments.
Example: “Lough Erne fragmented into a series of lakes”
Synonyms: Break, Explode
4) Hammered out
Meaning: to reach an agreement or solution after a lot of argument or discussion.
Example: Three years after the accident the lawyers finally managed to hammer out a settlement with the insurance company.
Synonyms: Decision, Decide
5) Short-sighted
Meaning: Lacking imagination or foresight.
Example: “a short-sighted government”
Synonyms: Narrow-minded, Narrow
Antonyms: Far-sighted, Imaginative
6) One-upmanship
Meaning: The technique or practice of gaining an advantage or feeling of superiority over another person.
Example: “the one-upmanship of who can get the best presents”
7) Patronage
Meaning: The power to control appointments to office or the right to privileges.
Example: “recruits are selected on merit, not through political patronage”
Synonyms: Partisanship, Favoritism
8) Marginalised
Meaning: Treat (a person, group, or concept) as insignificant or peripheral.
Example: “by removing religion from the public space, we marginalize it”
9) Subsumed
Meaning: Include or absorb (something) in something else.
Example: “most of these phenomena can be subsumed under two broad categories”
10) Concessions
Meaning: The action of conceding or granting something.
Example: “this strict rule was relaxed by concession”
Synonyms: Admission, Acceptance
Antonyms: Denial, Retention
11) Fledgling
Meaning: A person or organization that is immature, inexperienced, or underdeveloped.
Example: “the country’s fledgling democracy”
Synonyms: Emergent, Beginning
Antonyms: Mature
12) Flux
Meaning: Continuous change.
Example: “the whole political system is in a state of flux”
Synonyms: Variability, Instability
Antonyms: Stability
13) Squabbling
Meaning: Quarrel noisily over a trivial matter.
Example: “the boys were squabbling over a ball”
Synonyms: Quarrel, Argue
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