People’s Constitution

Bishnu Gautam


Two years ago, on September 20, 2015, the dream of the political parties and the Nepali people to have a constitution drafted by the people’s representatives was materialised. It took almost 65 years for the political parties and the people to realise their dream of getting a constitution drafted through an elected Constituent Assembly.
Of course, the issue of the elections to the Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution was first included in the proclamation of King Tribhuvan on Fagun 7, 2007, (February 19, 1951) when he had announced establishment of democracy and fall of the Rana regime. However, the political parties, especially the Nepali Congress, gave up the demand of forming a constituent assembly after late King Mahendra in 1958 deceitfully announced to hold the parliamentary elections in place of an election to the Constituent Assembly.
The issue of constituent assembly election faded away with the royal take over in 1960 and even after the political change of 1990, the issue was not in the menu of the key political forces which could ushered in the new democratic era. Only the Maoists pushed the agenda throughout their 10-year war against the state, and they agreed to end their so-called ‘people’s war’ only when the mainstream political parties agreed with their agenda of the constituent assembly in 2005.
With the agreement reached between the Maoists and the alliance of seven parliamentary parties, not only the decade-long conflict ended but also an environment to hold the election to the CA created. The first CA election held in April 2008 though failed to draft the constitution succeeded to uproot the monarchy as feared by the kings from 1951.
The second CA constituted in 2013 elections, however, succeeded to draft and promulgate the present constitution in 23 months, ending all speculations. The unity among the major political parties after the devastating earthquake of 2015 culminated in the drafting of the constitution.
Then President Dr Ram Baran Yadav promulgated the national charter in the historic CA. Today we are marking the second constitution day. And in two years after its promulgation, the process for its implementation is moving in the right direction. As the elections to the federal and provincial parliaments and the local levels should be held by January 21, 2015 to ensure its implementation, the local elections have already concluded while the dates of the elections of House of Representatives and provincial assemblies have already been announced.
However, while recalling Nepal’s political journey to have a CA-drafted constitution, we should not forget the challenges posed by our southern neighbour to deprive the Nepali people of a democratic constitution. The largest democracy of the world resorted to all measures to prevent the promulgation of the constitution and when the constitution was promulgated, it imposed a blockade against Nepal. This unwanted interference in Nepal’s internal matter resulted in a unity among the Nepali people in favour of the constitution.
Even those people who were not happy with the provision of ‘secular state’ during its promulgation have taken the ownership of the national charter due to elder brotherly behaviour of India. With the Madhes-based parties joining the election fray, the constitution has already become acceptable to all forces in the country.
Indeed, it was the most democratically drafted constitution through an inclusive CA. Altogether 507 of 598 sitting CA members had voted for the Bill while 25 lawmakers of the then Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal had voted against it. However, the same party joined the government led by CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre and participated in all elections held under the new constitution. A total of 532 CA members participated in the voting process. Only 57 members boycotted the voting process. Likewise, 85 per cent out of 89 per cent members present in the CA supported the adaptation of the new constitution. When over 85 per cent of the people elected representatives voted for the constitution, it truly reflects the people’s aspirations.

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