EU poll mission’s call to drop Khas/Arya quota under flak

Published On: March 22, 2018 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 22: The suggestion made by the European Union Election Observation Mission to exclude Khas/Arya from the "quota system" has drawn criticism from various quarters, including from top political leaders, former bureaucrats and ordinary people.

They have argued that the EU Mission had made unwarranted comments on the issue without understanding properly the Nepali context. While arguing that the constitution has mentioned only proportional inclusive representation, they maintained that the provision is best suited in the Nepalese context. 

EU EOM in its report submitted to the Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday said the quota system should exclude groups that are already well-represented, hinting at the arrangement made for the Khas/Aarya group to ensure that their representation is also equal to their population. "This is arguably in contravention of international standards on equality, as affirmative action measures are foreseen only as a means to promote equality," insisted the report.

Reacting strongly to the suggestion, former prime minister and coordinator of Naya Shakti Nepal Party, Baburam Bhattarai vented his ire, saying that the EU Mission failed to understand even basics of Nepal's constitution. Taking to Twitter, he even suggested to them to avoid making such misleading suggestions. 

"It is heard that a diplomatic mission made an objectionable decree not to provide reservations to certain caste group. The constitution drafted by us Nepalese nowhere mentions the word "reservation". There is only "proportional inclusive representation", which is absolutely correct. Those lacking discerning mind should better keep quiet," Bhattarai tweeted. 

Ruling CPN-UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai also strongly criticized the EU's suggestion. "The comment of the EU on Khas/Aaya is unfortunate. This could seriously undermine the growing ethnic unity and communal harmony in Nepali society. This could even raise questions on the intention of the EU itself. It is better EU retracted this conclusion," wrote Bhattarai in his tweets. 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) Chairman Kamal Thapa termed the suggestion "unwarranted", "unnecessary", "inappropriate" and "interventionist". "Foreign ministry has to caution the EU to stop planting seeds of division and discord among Nepali people," he wrote in his twitter handle. 

Commenting on Thapa's tweet, senior leader of the main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) Ram Sharan Mahat accused the EU mission of failing understand the basics of  Nepal's constitution. "What EU has to understand is the proportional inclusive provision seeks to keep the representation of Khas/Arya within the limit, but not reservation to them, as they had high representation in the past," Mahat said. 

Reacting strongly against the suggestion of EU mission, senior leader of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Democratic) Prakash Chandra Lohani asked how the EU would react if an official delegation from Nepal asked them to include Turkey as the new membem. "The message is: Resist the temptation to poke your nose in Nepal's internal affairs," he said.

Former Foreign Secretary and Nepali ambassador to Nepal's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York         Madu Raman Acharya joined in protesting the EU team's unwarranted suggestion. "EU Election Observation Team has no business to suggest changes that require amendment of Nepal's constitution against the principle of proportional representation! Period!" he wrote in his twitter. 

Civil society leader Bishnu Raj Upreti termed the suggestion "poison"us", "ill-intended" and "objectionable". "EU countries must review their own situation of inclusions how inclusive they are," he warned.

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