By Adv. Dipendra Jha
[The two constitutional amendments have been worded vaguely which has resulted in differing interpretations. Below is an interpretation and calculation by Advocate Dipendra Jha.]
Here is the provision on delineation of electoral constituency in Nepal’s constitution following its first amendment on January 23, 2016:
For the amendment of Article 286 (5): The Constituency Delimitation Commission shall delimit the constituencies in every province keeping population-based representation as main basis and geography as secondary basis in accordance with the article 84, 1 (a). Every district in the provinces shall have at least one constituency.
Although it is claimed that the amendment of electoral constituency delineation made to the constitution ensures 80 First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) seats to Madhes ( with 50 per cent population), Terai will, in fact, get just 71 seats. Refer to the table below for the calculations.
|Provinces||Population[in Figure & percent of total population]||Number of Districts included||Electoral constituency Provision for Terai districts||(A -B) Remaining seats
[ total seats minus one seat per district ]
|per cent of population in Terai districts included in provinces||Seats in Terai Districts
[one seat per district plus seats based on population]
Total seats calculated based on population
[ Seats in province = total seats 165*% of total population ]
One seat mandatory for each district
[ see above constitutional provision in italicized ]
|No.1||45, 34, 943 (17.1)||14||28||14||14||56% in 3 Terai districts
(Jhapa, Morang & Sunsari)
|No.2||54, 04, 145
|8||33||Not Applicable (All Madhes districts)||NA-hill||NA||33|
|No.3||55, 29, 452
|No.4||24, 13, 907
|No Terai land||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|No.5||45, 40, 222
|12||28||12||16||79% in 6 Terai districts (Rupendhi, Kapilbastu, Nawalparasi, Bnake and Bardiya & Dang)||6+13=19|
|No.6||15, 19, 399
|No terai land|
|No. 7||25, 52, 517
|9||16||9||7||48% in two Terai districts (Kailali & Kanchanpur)||2+3= 5|
|Total 71 seats in Terai is 41% of total 165 seats despite having 50.27 % of population||Total seats||71|
Acknowledgement: Professor Krishna Hachhetu of political science, who is also a former member of State Restructuring Commission has contributed to the calculations.
- It is subject to open interpretation and can be manipulated in any way in the acts or by the Constituency Delimitation Commission.
- Most importantly, Terai/Madhes will get only 71 seats. Here are the questions that arise: Which areas will be considered as Madhes? Does Madhes mean only the eight districts included in province 2 of the new constitution? Currently, 12 districts of Madhes have been split into five hill provinces. The delineation of electoral constituencies in province 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 will be done on the basis of province, and these provinces are linked with hill districts. Therefore, without revising the boundary of the provinces to ensure two provinces in Madhes, the region cannot have 80 FPTP seats.
- Another important fact to ponder over is the amendment fails to attain the goals of population basis in the upper house. For example, Province number two with 54 lakhs of population and province number six with 15 lakhs will have equal representation, i.e. 8 seats. If the electoral system in the upper house like the USA Senate has been adopted, no autonomy has been given to the provinces like federal model of the USA. As Nepal’s constitution has given most of the powers to the federal parliament, power leverage of our provinces will decrease under the current system. This will only contribute to the consolidation of power at the centre if the population size is not considered for the allocation of seats in the upper house.
- Nepal’s major political parties have deliberately gerrymandered the electoral constituencies in Terai so as to favor them only during the delineation of provincial boundaries. This has left Madhesi and Tharus politically underrepresented. Please refer to the table below.
|Provinces||Caste/Ethnic Based Demography|
|1st largest group (%)||2nd largest group (%)|
|No 1||Khas Arya (28)||Tarai IPs (12)|
|No 2||Madheshi castes (52)||Madheshi Dalit (16)|
|No 3||Khas Arya (37)||Tamang (20)|
|No 4||Khas Arya (42)||Magar (17)|
|No 5||Khas Arya (30)||Magar (16)|
|No 6||Khas Arya (62)||Hill Dalit (23)|
|No 7||Khas Arya (60)||Tharu (17)|