Amresh Singh - Member of Parliament - is an old and close friend. But I am shocked at his BBC interview this evening. It represents deep political dishonesty and a great betrayal of the cause of the marginalised. It is all the more surprising because he has been a steadfast supporter of federalism. He has in fact done his PhD on precisely the question of Madhes and federalism and has often told me that the Nepali state will either federalise or disintegrate.
Of course, implementing federalism will be a challenge. And there are real economic and logistical issues to be considered. But for Amreshji to suggest that because of these reasons, federalism is unnecessary in Nepal - it is politically, geo politically, economically not feasible - is absurd. For him to suddenly claim he is 'mature' is funny - was he immature when he was campaigning for federalism just last August in Tarai?
Not once did he use the word inclusion in the interview; not once did he use the word Madhes; not once did he talk about the need to restructure the state on progressive lines. Instead all his focus was on appeasing conservative establishment of Kathmandu, with his new love for the 'rashtra' and his discovery that federalism is expensive business!
This is a disappointing turn - he has been committed to 2006 political change. As I write in my book, his role has been under appreciated in the peace process. But this opportunism and U turn will forever discredit him in the movement for political rights and social justice in Nepal in general, and Madhes in particular. If you compromise on your basic political positions, you may win a few benefits temporarily, but you lose enormously in the long term. Amresh Ji was anyway a much reduced figure after his controversial role in constitution promulgation. I can't see him recover ground now.