Khas Arya men have historically had disproportionate presence in public office. Local election results show that this is a continuing trend, with Khas Arya men represented three times their share of the population in the mayoral post.
Khas Arya, as defined by Tribhuvan University’s Central Department of Sociology and Anthropology , include the Hill Brahman, Chhetri, Sanyasi and Thakuri. As a group, they occupy the bulk of Nepal’s bureaucracy, judiciary, and public offices. High level posts in security forces and political parties continue to be dominated by Khas Arya men.
According to the national census of 2011, the Khas Arya population of Nepal is 8,278,401 and they make up 31.2% of Nepal, and their over-representation has been problematized by marginalized groups. For example, when it was time to appoint High Court judges last year, 83.75% of the posts went to Khas Arya, but the Supreme Court so far has delayed passing a verdict on the case that goes against the principle of proportional representation inscribed in the constitution. Similarly, 95.5% of all the Prime Ministers of Nepal have been Khas Arya men.
Khas Arya aggregate representation close to their national population
In the local elections, out of 35,040 local representative positions, Khas Arya won 34% of the seats. This percentage is from the aggregate that includes the Dalit woman ward member seat.
But Khas Arya are disproportionately represented in the mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson, deputy chairperson, and ward chair positions
There are more Khas Arya mayors than the rest of the population groups combined, and almost half of the chairpersons of rural municipality are Khas Arya. With only six Khas Arya women in the mayor post, the over-representation of Khas Arya men is stark — as a group, Khas Arya men are slightly less than 16% of the population but they occupy 48% of mayor posts. Similarly, with only six Khas Arya women elected to the post of chairperson of rural municipality, Khas Arya men occupy 44% of the posts. Similarly, 44% of the 6,742 ward chair posts went to Khas Arya. Of the 62 women elected to the post of ward chair, 27 are Khas Arya women and 35 belong to other social groups.
In the ward member positions, Khas Arya appear to have proportional representation, but when we set aside the reserved seat for Dalit woman ward member, and look at the remaining women ward member seats and the open competition ward member seats, Khas Arya have disproportionate representation.
Highest ratio of Khas Arya local representatives in UML, lowest in Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum and Ra Ja Pa Nepal
Several factors explain the low numbers of Khas Arya local representatives in the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum and Ra Ja Pa Nepal. These have been known as regional parties and have only recently transitioned into being national parties. They are also vocal about identity issues, in particular the over-representation of Khas Arya. They also did not participate in the first phase of the local elections.
Half of all Khas Arya local representatives affiliated with UML
Of all the Khas Arya local representatives, the vast majority are in UML and Nepali Congress. In the larger context, few Khas Arya local representatives have political affiliations outside the three major parties.
All charts by Supriya Manandhar