It’s a season of new states in South Asia. Well, at least in India and Nepal where announcement and declaration of new geographical divisions are leading to a rise in political temperatures this winter.
In India, the UPA government’s announcement to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh has led to a surge of demands for further fragmentation of the world’s largest democracy.
On the other hand, declaration of autonomous states by Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in Nepal is threatening to hurt the fragile peace process in the world’s youngest republic.
“By declaring autonomous states on their own, the Maoists are trying to disturb social harmony. It would render the constituent assembly meaningless,” said Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal last week.
Last Wednesday, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram announced creation of Telangana in an attempt to end the 11-day fast of Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K Chandrasekhara Rao who was demanding the new state.
The decision led to demands across the country for creation of several more states like Harit Pradesh, Budelkhand, Gorkhaland, Garoland and others by carving them from existing ones.
Two days later, Maoists in Nepal declared two autonomous states—Kochila and Limbuwan in the eastern part of the country. On Sunday they declared two more states, Tharuwan and Seti Mahakali *followed by Sherpa and Kirat states on Monday*
Despite widespread condemnation of the move, the former ruling party which stepped down from power in May this year, plans to declare *seven* more such states by December 18.
Nepal, which became a republic last year after a 10-year-old civil war, has 75 districts but doesn’t have any state. It is in the process of deciding the country’s administrative structure by drafting a new constitution.
Although the Maoists term their move as a pressure-tactic on the government to declare autonomous states, other parties term it as violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2006 after the civil war.
“The Maoist move is a clear violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as well as the interim constitution,” said Bimalendu Nidhi, a senior leader of the ruling Nepali Congress.
The CPA signed between Maoists and seven political parties empowers the constituent assembly to formulate a new constitution and end the unitary state system through democratic restructuring of the country.