KATHMANDU, Aug 4: The Baburam Bhattarai-led government, which has been accused of trying to rule the country through ordinance, has embarked on homework to enact a highly controversial law on inclusion, according to government sources.
Sources familiar with the development told Republica on Friday that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who also holds the law ministry portfolio, has directed senior officials at the Ministry of Law, Justice and Constituent Assembly Affairs and at his own office to make preparations for introducing the law through ordinance.
"The cabinet is likely to endorse the draft of the ordinance very soon and recommend to the president for its promulgation," said a government source, seeking anonymity.
Sources further said that the government is making preparations to endorse the same draft of an inclusion bill that was tabled in parliament in January. The Bills Committee of the cabinet had finalized the draft of the inclusion law despite stiff opposition from senior bureaucrats who were concerned over increasing the reservation quota in the civil service, army, police and even the universities from the existing 45 percent to 48 percent.
The draft proposes to allocate 33 percent of the reserved 48 percent, considering that as 100 percent, for women, 28 percent for Madhesis, nine percent for Dalits and four percent for the differently-abled, among others.
The draft of the ordinance says that even the 33 percent women´s quota will be further allocated for women from Madhesi, Dalit, Janjati and backward communities. But women´s rights activists have objected to this proposal, saying that women in themselves are a separate class that has historically been marginalized in the country.
"In our context, women are socially, culturally, economically and culturally backward. The reserved quotas for women should not be further allocated among women from the hills, Madhes or other sub-categories," said women´s rights activist Sapan Pradhan Malla.
Pradhan Malla further argued, "If the government wants to further distribute the reserved quotas by creating different categories of women, why does it not do so in the other reserved groups like Madhesi, Janjati and Dalit? There are elite Brahmins also in the Madhesi community; why should they have any reservations?"
Pradhan Malla demanded that part of the quotas allocated for the Madhesi, Janajati, Dalits and others should be reserved for women from those particular communities.
Top government bureaucrats said they are against the draft ordinance as it has not incorporated their suggestion to adopt an inclusion policy based on the Human Development Index.
"If the current draft ordinance is enacted as it is, only the elites in the reserved groups will benefit. People from the Raute community will have to compete with people from the Newar community for the quota reserved for indigenous communities despite the fact that Newar candidates will obliviously defeat candidates from the Raute community," a senior government official said about the pitfalls in the draft ordinance.
The bureaucrats said the cabinet is likely not to hold fresh discussions in its Bills Committee to avoid stiff objections from them. Generally, the cabinet holds discussions on draft bills prior to their finalization.
The present coalition government had finalized the inclusion bill and even registered it in parliament in January. Before that, a Maoist-led government had tabled a similar bill in 2009. But neither of the bills was enacted by parliament as the political parties did not attach any priority to them. The inclusion bill has been one of the major agenda items of the Madhesi parties when joining successive governments after the election of the Constituent Assembly in 2008.