Next Door Nepal: No closure in Kathmandu

Draft constitution has widened the political divide

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Published: July 6, 2015 12:05 am
Nepali Congress, Nepal, nepal politics, Madhesi parties, Subhash Nembang, Federal Republic of Nepal, india neighbours, nepal news, indian express columns The agreement was signed by leaders of the four main political parties after hours of negotiations at Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s residence.

The delivery of the draft constitution — the projected moment of euphoria — witnessed strange scenes in the Constituent Assembly (CA), when not only members of the opposition but also those from the ruling Nepali Congress stood up to say that the draft was not acceptable.

Members of the Madhesi parties tore up the draft as soon as it was placed before the House by the chairman, Subhash Nembang, saying that the document has deferred the question of federalism, which now stands referred to a yet-to-be-formed federal commission that will settle the demarcation of boundaries for the eight provinces to be formed on the basis of “capability and identity”.

After a brief discussion in the House, the draft constitution is all set to be given final shape and delivered as the constitution of the “Federal Republic of Nepal” by July 15, as per the agreement among the leaders of the bigger parties reached on June 8. But the draft’s poor content has caused confusion, given its contradictions and shortfalls. Surendra Prasad Chaudhary, a senior CA member, said the House was deliberately committing contempt of the Supreme Court, which had asked it to settle the issue of federalism and incorporate it as part of the constitution. Besides, the court had also ordered that the June 8 agreement be stayed. Another member, Pradip Giri, announced his “boycott”, although the parties had agreed to shun all forms of protest. This shows that not only is the deadline going to be missed again, but that more political chaos is going to follow.

While almost a dozen members of the Nepali Congress expressed their reservations, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, the fourth largest party, said it would not accept a constitution that refused to solicit the people’s mandate on issues that pit monarchy against republic, federalism against a unitary system and a secular identity against a “Hindu” Nepal.

What is being criticised is not merely the manner in which the draft was presented. The draft’s contradictions, ambiguities and its lack of direction make it difficult, if not impossible, for the deadline to be met. The “Introduction” contains a single sentence of 220 words and promises to make Nepal a socialist country, heaping praise on the armed struggle and other past movements to assert the “people’s sovereignty”. It blames the “unitary and absolute” regime for all the disparities — of caste, region, etc — prevailing in the country today. It flatly refuses to acknowledge the historical fact that Nepal, through centuries, had remained independent when all the other countries of the region were colonised. However, the eulogy for the armed struggle contains the threat of legitimising the politics of violence. It appears to invite violence into a country that has already witnessed a decade-long armed insurgency by the Maoists against the monarchy and parliamentary system that ended up killing about 17,000 people between 1996 and 2006.

Interestingly, the draft almost admits that it is a temporary statute, since it has stayed away from the earlier position of the parties that “federalism, republicanism and secularism” should be the identity of the state, with no right to review it. As the parties stand discredited, and there is a growing demand that the agenda be settled by the people, the draft simply says that, in future, parliament would have the right to amend these provisions with a two-thirds majority. The draft dropped the word “secularism”, substituting it with “religious freedom”, and deferred the coming into of effect of “federalism”.

Worse, the draft comes at a time when the row between the legislature and the bigger parties on the one hand and the judiciary on the other has escalated, with the former trying to encroach upon the independence of the latter, although the draft itself promises an “independent judiciary”. In the coming days, Nepal is sure to witness further divisions over constitution-making. The judiciary is unlikely to give up its role, warning that a constitution cannot be a mere political document.

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  1. S
    Satendra kumar
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm
    Consution for all nepal's is simple follow the Indian system and obey the laws of aryabhatta's-land of law.
    1. D
      Dirgha Raj
      Jul 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm
      Nepal is a small nation in geographical terms. But it is rich in terms of heritage and natural resources. Around 80 corer (800 million) Indian Hindus respect Nepal because it is the only Hindu nation in the world. Millions of Hindus across the world are hopeful with Nepal. After the Hindu spirit (Ashmita) and culture were destro by Muslim and English imperialism, the Indian people could only be proud of Nepal which is a Hindu nation, although India is not a declared Hindu state. Kings of Nepal have been enjoying special privileges in the shrines and temples in India. In such a context, the ruling Indian Congress (I) was committing a suicidal work by backing anti-nationalists forces in Nepal and pressing for establishment of a republic and secular state. Religion, culture and tradition are the treasure of any nation. Christians, Jews and Muslims are committed to their respective religion no-matter how conservative they may look. What Kind of Loktantra our stupid political leaders in search of by ending the relevance of Nepal’s religion, culture and ideny? Nationalist Nepali people and the army have not accepted the declaration of republic and secularism. Nepal will not keep on watching India’s naked intervention. We appeal to India not to play with the Nepali people’s sentiments. We would like to see a smooth bilateral relation being maintained with India. If civil war and violence ignites in Nepal, it would surely impact India. Royal Insution is the only base to shun violence, communal riot and civil war. Democracy and nationality with the King should be secured in Nepal. King Gyanendra does not want confrontation. He vacated the palace considering the party leader's wish. The monarchy restoration is necessary and only it will be able to save the ideny of Nepal. Then all the traitors and conspirators will be finished. The declaration paper of NC, UML and Maoists was transformed into the Interim Consution after breaching the agreement made on 24 April, 2006 with the king. The Interim Consution is a sham. It will not formulate a consution. Whether or not it satisfies anyone's taste we have no alternative than to return to the 1990 consution. We cannot give continuity to this controversial Interim Consution. To persist with this consution implies that destroys Nepal's existence. We must unite and in presence of the king make an effort in regards this alternative to save the nation and seek solution. Thank you Dirgha Raj Prasai
      1. G
        Jul 6, 2015 at 5:07 pm
        How can other parties, whether political or otherwise, be satisfied with a Consution which seeks to impose a political ideology on the Nepali people? It also obfuscates over issues of citizenship. Laws of nationality seek to exclude rather than include and unfortunately the excluded are children who might have sought to claim citizenship through their mothers. That would render if not a million but thousands of Nepali children stateless. This is what comes of too many cooks and not all of which have the right ingredients in their heads for lawmaking.The political ideology is something that should only be chose by the people periodically at general elections by the way.Nepali Lawmakers need a bit of a shakeup to get them out of the make believe world they seem to be living in. At time when most young qualified and unqualified Nepalis are seeking to leave for nations that have a more generous interpretation of the qualities of citizenship which are not tied to ethnicity, religion or skin color who are they kidding and what are we offering our youth? Who are the foreigners they are afraid of and are they as afraid of us as we seem to be of them? This consution seeks to embed us in the 19th century. Like the Greeks ,maybe it's time the Nepali people said 'Oxi'- no and enough.
        1. Nilmani Singh
          Jul 6, 2015 at 8:33 pm
          Nepal people now are aganist India.As i feel interacting with Nepali students at Tsinghua university.They have aganist India & Indian
          1. R
            Ramesh Grover
            Jul 6, 2015 at 11:07 am
            One is grateful to Ghimere who is keeping India and Indians abreast of ground realities of Nepal. Obviously, Nepali mindset is divided into fragments and its polity and social order is incapable of handling its complexities. Nepal is vital to India and is also a buffer between two major Asian Giants. But India is also utterly helpless, and Nepal social order may not be amenable to anything which India may propose. China also is in an identical situation. Since stability of Nepal is vital to both India and China, one may think of involving both these biggies to put their heads together, forget their differences, confabulate with Nepal at all levels, use financial and other packages to impress public opinion, and help Nepal to work its way out of its present impe. This is vital to all of us.
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