SECOND CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY AND MAKING DEMOCRATIC CONSITUTION: WAY OUT
Professor Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal *
Apathy, despair and confusion among Nepali political spheres and Nepali people are seen especially after Nepal’s first Constituent Assembly (2009-2012) and second Constitution Assembly (2013) could not draft a constitution within the stipulated time. There has been added confusion and uncertainty in industries, business and economic sectors including peace and security situation as democratic constitution has not been promulgated in the country. The political transition period is getting prolonged severely affecting lives of Nepali, evoking severe hatred and hopelessness towards political system and parties. There are often complaints about the complete failure of political parties and Nepal facing crisis of leadership. This has made mockery of Nepali democratic system. There has been serious doubt on present Constituent Assembly making a new constitution during its remaining tenure. In such serious political and constitutional condition, the discussion on a subject of what can be a future measure that the country should adopt has already started.
Present Situation inside Constituent Assembly
Various Tarai-based political parties led by UCPN-Maoist including 30 small political parties warned that the country could face another agitation if the major political parties attempted to make constitution based on majority instead of reaching into consensus. UCPN-M Chairperson Prachanda through the 30-party front has been advocating for agitation saying that no conclusion could be reached through dialogue.
Madhes-based political parties and UCPN-M have attributed ego of the government to the delay in drafting of constitution. Terai-Madhes Democratic Party’s President Mahanta Thakur said that the consensus could not be reached in making constitution due to the dominating attitude of the government. UCPN-M Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that if the ruling coalition of Nepali Congress and UML are flexible in the issue of federalism, restructuring of the state and division of executive power, the constitution can be drafted.
The consensus between the ruling parties and UCPN-M led 30 parties could not be reached due to the blame game between each other and political dispute between them.
The opposition including Madhes-based and other small parties is alleging major political parties of suppressing them. They have been continuously warning that if the constitution is made based on majority instead of consensus, the country will face a serious consequence. However, the major political parties are denying these allegations and have expressed their wish to draft constitution through consensus. Arjun Narsingh KC, central member of Nepal Congress said that the universal democratic acceptance norms are system of reaching a conclusion through dialogue, disagreement and debate – which is not autocratic. He further said that the Madesh based parties are also coalition partners and there is no question of suppressing them.
Activities of Small Parties outside Constituent Assembly
The activities of small parties outside the Constituent Assembly have their own impact in the process of constitution making. The CPN-M party led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplab) has been raising the issue of nationality and corruption and carrying out activities in the manner of an underground group. The constitution making in such environment in itself is further challenging.
Responsibility of Leadership in Constitution Making
If the country gets a good leadership, the country can find way out of all things. But if the leadership cannot come out from their personal interest, the country might face serious consequences. Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had transformed the country as one of the prosperous and economic center in the world in 30 years after 1990 from a country considered as one of the poorest in Asia. The effort of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is praiseworthy. In Nepal the leadership must come out of their personal interest and play an important role in making the constitution.
Responsibility of Civil Society
The civil society of Nepal is not completely successful in giving pressure to the second Constituent Assembly to make a democratic constitution immediately. The civilians have been advocating the need of separate agitation of civil society. The leadership has been advocating the monopolizing of country’s resources and means as thieir right. It is high time for the civil society to exert pressure on the leaders for the immediate promulgation of constitution.
Responsibility of Foreign Powers
The neighboring countries India, China, European Union, UK, USA and other international doner communities must play a positive role in constitution making in Nepal through Constituent Assembly. As a good and friendly neighbor, these countries must inspire Nepal to immediately make constitution and must take efforts to bring sustained peace and stability in the country. In this crisis, inciting any powers of Nepal for wrong purpose would not be appropriate. That is why the international community and neighbors must positively inspire the leaders to make constitution as soon as possible. Neighboring country China is not willing to take security risk through the formation of one identity based federalism or many federal states in its border. China is aware of possible security risks from western countries and supporters of Free Tibet by carrying out anti-China activities in those states. Nepal must address Chinese concern while making the constitution. Nepal should not neglect China’s interest as it is our good neighbor and well-wisher. UCPN-M and Terai based political parties must make a compromise in advocating for single identity based federalism. India which has an open border of about 1800 km with Nepal has a serious concern about the possible anti-Indian activities that might be carried out from Nepali territory. The Constituent Assembly must be serious in this issue. The Madhesi-based political parties must compromise on their stands on these issues. It is the time for Nepali political parties to show some flexibility in constitution making considering the interest of neighboring countries Nepal, India and international interest.
Effort of CA Chairperson in Constitution Making
Constituent Assembly Chairperson Subash Chandra Nembang told the political parties to make a draft incorporating main issues of constitution within four days or pass him that right. His statement created ripples in spheres of Nepali politics. Nembang’s intention was to motivate the political parties in making constitution as soon as possible. However, the political parties turned against him.
Possibilities and Alternatives after failure of Constituent Assembly
Various political alternatives are being searched after the hope of making a constitution by the second Constituent Assembly diminished. The debate has already started on the issue that whether the army will take the power under the presidential rule. Nepal army had already shown its loyalty towards Nepali people and elected head of the state especially after the end of monarchy. The army had shown its high-level matureness by not getting deployed in People’s movement of 2006. Nepal army has also played a positive and important role in conflict management by integrating Maoist combatant in their organization. That is why Nepal Army will never get involved in any dispute. The organization has always given its priority to protect the national image as it understands its internal, and the national and international context. This is the reason why the army does not want to get involved in the dispute by taking over. Hence, there are no chances of Army Coup in Nepal.
On other hand, some groups are actively being involved and advocating in resurrecting constitution of 1990. The debate on amending Interim Constitution of 2007 and formally announcing it as a new constitution is being discussed. At the same time the fear of reinstatement of monarchy is increasing. There are people complaining why millions are being spent for constitution drafting in Nepal instead of adopting constitution of countries like Switzerland, Czech Republic which have similar backgrounds to Nepal.
The Nepali leaders must learn a lot from the practice of country where a Constituent Assembly could not make a constitution. Nepal’s leadership has been often criticized on charge of being pro-Indian, pro-Chinese, pro-European and pro-US but not being in favor of Nepal. People are criticizing government and 601 CA members for not being responsible and able to make a people’s friendly constitution on time. It is a shame that the political parties are giving priority on sharing of power belittling the serious issue of constitution making.
In this situation, the political parties must work together for the interest of the country, not for their own personal interest. It is the time for the leadership to exhibit some conscience and maturity. It is the time to prove that nation and people are higher than partisan interest. The leaders must stand above partisan interest by discouraging the political culture of dispute among factions within the parties.
 * Professor Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal is former Head of Political Science Department, Central Department, TU Kirtipur
A version of this article appeared in the August, 2015 edition of INFORMAL
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