'Ethnic party to unsettle mainstream in short run'
KATHMANDU, July 8: As ethnic leaders and activists have announced that they will form a new, indigenous people-centric political party, political analysts opine that while the new entity would be a blow to the mainstream parties in the short run, the future of the new party would largely depend on how swiftly the mainstream parties address the grievances of indigenous communities.
"Undoubtedly, this has brought in a new political player. It will create bitterness and rivalry in the short term. In mid term, it will invite intense competition (among parties), and create political re-alignments among marginalized communities in the long run. Political boundaries would be re-drawn," said political analyst CK Lal.
Lal termed the decision of the ethnic leaders and activists to form a new political force as natural. "It is because of the failure of traditional parties to manage the aspirations of emerging population groups in society," he added.
A two-day national gathering of ethnic leaders and activists, most of whom protested strongly against the political lines of major parties, mainly Nepali Congress and CPN-UNL, that supported multi-identity federalism, decided to form a new party of indigenous people, most likely on August 9, which is International Day of the World´s Indigenous Peoples.
Asked about the future of such a party, Lal stated that it could not be said that its future would be bad; it would depend on their manifesto and leadership.
But Professor Lokraj Baral has doubts about the sustainability of a party formed by ethnic leaders. "There are heterogeneous ethnic groups. So, the sustainability of a political party formed by various ethnic groups is questionable," he added.
Political analyst Shyam Shrestha also believes that the future of the ethnic party would depend on the policies of the mainstream parties. "If the mainstream parties begin to address the issues related to indigenous communities, the ethnic party would weaken," he said, adding, "If they remain indifferent to those issues, the ethnic party could arise as a strong force in future."
Lal said there would be least clash of personalities if youth leaders seize the opportunity in a new party.
Shrestha sees both a positive and a negative impact on national politics if the ethnic party is formed. "The mainstream political parties would be weaken politically and organizationally in the long term as ethnic, Madhesi, women and other marginalized leaders would quit those parties if they remained indifferent to marginalized community issues," he added.
He also maintained that the emergence of a new political force under ethnic leadership would have a positive impact as the mainstream parties could reconsider their policy on indigenous issues.
Asked what would be the ideological line of the ethnic party, Shrestha said that there was slim chance of the formation of a new party based on a particular political ideology as the ethnic leaders belong to various ideologies. "They would form a political party based on the issues of indigenous, Dalit, women and other marginalized communities," he added.
Meanwhile, CPN-UML dissident leader Ashok Rai said they would not form a new party immediately, but would struggle within their respective parties.
"We are in an intra-party struggle just as Sher Bahadur Deuba struggled for nine months in the Nepali Congress and Mohan Baidya for one and half year in the UCPN (Maoist)," Rai added, while addressing a program in Kathmandu on Saturday.
He accused major political parties of using ethnic leaders for their own interests. "They seek the contribution of indigenous people when needed, but they ignore the latter once they achieve their goal," he maintained.