As President of a committee responsible for sorting out thorny issues during the Constitution drafting process, he had advocated for quotas for Madhesi and Janajati clusters, and not for the Brahmin/Chhetri. Bhattarai quit the party he founded to set up the Naya Shakti in 2015. Bhattarai has now made a dramatic U-turn, and political analysts say the former prime minister’s course correction is a result of his party’s electoral debacle. While Bhattarai won last year’s election from Gorkha-2 constituency, his new party did not win any parliamentary seat elsewhere.
“The Khas-Arya did not trust Bhattarai because he was once against them,” explains Madhesi rights activists Tula Narayan Sah. “But the Madhesi-Janajati did not trust him either because he signed a constitution that discriminated against them.”
Sah says Bhattarai has made a calculated move, knowing which direction the wind is blowing: “Why would he otherwise criticise a statement that simply says Khas-Arya are already well-represented?”
The Khas-Arya have won about half the seats in Parliament through direct elections, and 30% more through proportional representation. This makes their presence in the House more than double the percentage of their actual population.