Constitution By Mid-July

CHIN KAJI SHRESTHA, chief whip of Nepali Congress, spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT on various issues. Excerpts

July 4, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 09 No. -2 July. 03- 2015 (Ashad 18, 2072)

How soon do you hope to see the promulgation of the new constitution?

There will be the new constitution by the middle of July. We can expect the draft of the constitution and discussion on the draft soon. Drafting Committee of Constitutional Assembly is working now as the leaders of four parties have already suggested to the Drafting Committee to settle major issues on its own.

Are there still major disputes on issues in the constitution?

We have already settled major issues. The current disputes are on just a few small things, which can be settled without any major dispute. This is the reason leaders of major parties have also agreed to authorize the chair of Drafting Committee with a mandate to settle it.

Since there are so many processes in the constitution, how can you promulgate the new constitution within two weeks?

As leaders of political parties have already expressed their commitments through the 16 points deal, we are now following the fast track methods or suspending certain processes mentioned in the constitution and Rules and Regulations of Constituent Assembly.

Don’t you think the fast track process can deny the people the right to have their say?

It will be more accommodative and participatory. Since the CA is elected by people as a sovereign body, the institution represents the voices of all in the nation, including dalit, Janjatis and Madheshis. Fast track does not mean denying the rights of people but is just a way to cut down unnecessary steps.

What does fast track mean then?

Fast track means to reduce some unnecessary processes within the Constituent Assembly. So far as the discussions in the bill are concerned, CA members will get enough time to discuss on the draft bill.

How hopeful you are that the new constitution will be promulgated by the middle of July?

We have spent almost eight years just talking and discussing on constitution. Since people have given a clear-cut mandate this time, we don’t have any option other than to promulgate the new constitution.

Madheshis and Janjati parties have been saying that political parties have sacrificed the issue of federalism through new agreement, what do you say?

It is a baseless accusation. Nepal has become a Federal Democratic Republic. Nobody can change this status now. Instead of indulging in long political disputes with no results, leaders of political parties should settle the naming and demarcating of the provinces through the High Level Committee’s recommendation.  Political parties have already set the criteria for provinces and number of provinces. Now the provinces will be carved under the suggestion of high level committee and provincial assembly is given the right to name the provinces.

Will this mechanism be acceptable to others?

This is the best way. Instead of imposing the name of provinces from the center, this is a good idea to give the right to name the provinces to the provincial legislature.

In case Madheshis and Janjatis represented in the parliament boycott the process, what would be your party’s position?

We will take utmost efforts to bring them in the process. They will come to make the constituent assembly successful by expressing their opinion in the new constitution. I am hopeful that they will come to the terms.

At a time when a large number of Madheshis and Janjatis have already declared that they will oppose the constitution, how do you look at their statement?

As we have been waiting for the new constitution through the CA for more than half a century, everyone will support the process. As Madheshis and Janjatis also want to see the new constitution, they will support us in the process. Under the 16 points agreement, four parties have already made it clear that they don’t want to hold the nation for a long time without constitution. Since there is a consensus among all political forces to promulgate the new constitution by July, there will be the new constitution. No one can stop us now from making the new constitution.

Don’t you think it is necessary to address the concerns raised by Madheshis and Janjatis?

One of the essences of the 16-point agreement is to address the concerns raised by Madheshis and janjatis. There is no option other than to promulgate the new inclusive and federal constitution. Only through the inclusive constitution can we address the issues raised by Madheshis and Janjatis.

Is there any dispute now?

With the sixteen point agreement, all the major constitutional disputes including electoral process, legislature, forms of government, judiciary, federalism and many other issues have already been settled. The constitution will be promulgated though the sixteen point agreement. Except for a few minor issues, everything is settled now.

What about the future of government?

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has been repeatedly saying that he does not want to be in chair once the CA promulgates the constitution. He is sticking to his commitment.

Finally, what will be the status of local bodies in new constitution?

As local bodies are the backbone of democracy, they will be given the right place. No one can undermine this.

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