KATHMANDU, Sept 19: The then President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav announced the promulgation of Constitution of Nepal, 2015 (2072) at a special meeting of the Constituent Assembly on September 20, 2015. Yadav, also the first ever President of Nepal, announced the commencement of the new Constitution despite having some dissent towards it. How has aspects of the the implementation of the constitution been these two years?
Here is an interview between the former President Yadav and senior journalist Rishi Dhamala focusing on the above issues.
It has been two years since the new Nepal Constitution was promulgated. How have you comprehended these two years?
The promulgation expedition started after the seven points understanding was made between the seven political parties and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Center) in 2005. The same expedition promulgated the constitution. But the first Constitution Assembly could not write the constitution ultimately frustrating the mandate given by the People’s Movement. Democratic republic Nepal with federalism was the requisite of the constitution. After the first Constitution Assembly failed to write constitution, I was doubtful that they were not serious about the new-found republic system.
The second Constitution Assembly was successful to promulgate Nepal’s constitution, which brought Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Maoist Center and Madhes-centered parties together. During the promulgating, we, supposedly, had to compromise on some issues. But, they were in Nepal’s interest.
Did the constitution writing accelerate after the 2015 earthquake?
The earthquake hit Nepal while constitution writing was in progress. It is true that the promulgation gained momentum after the devastating earthquake. But the big political parties could not understand me. They had said that the Constitution Assembly would be changed into House of Representatives, and which would resolve the Madhes issues and federalism disputes. But, since the Supreme Court suggested resolving the issues through Constitution Assembly, I stood as the protector and keeper of the constitution.
I was also not happy with the fact that promulgation was done in haste, without going through a certain process.
Hadn’t you asked the political parties to put off promulgation date?
No clause-wise discussion was carried out during the promulgation process, which was a obvious mistake as it’s not a constitutional process. I had asked the Constitution Assembly Chairperson Subash Nembang, the then Prime Minister Sushil Korala and the political parties, but they didn’t realize it. I had no wish to hold to the post of president for 7 years and 3 months. I was elected for two years though.
It was my aim to bring acceptable and inclusive constitution. The constitution was hinting at obvious error that a community and a region were left out. I was of the opinion to take Madhes-based parties into confidence. That’s why I had suggested deferring the promulgation date by 15 days or one month.
Why was it important to postpone the promulgation date?
I want to remind that fact that, during the first Madhes movement, I had told that people of Hill and Madhes are brothers. I had appealed for harmony and institutionalization of change. I had told that we should not leave Madhes behind in the process so that there would be integrity in geological diversity.
But it is said that if the date was deferred then, the constitution would not have been promulgated. And why did you promulgate the constitution at the Constitution Assembly?
I believe in democracy. The constitution was signed by 90 percent of the lawmakers including lawmakers from Madhes-centered parties. Likewise, 52 lawmakers from Nepali Congress party, 27 from CPN-UML had signed the constitution. The constitution was endorsed by the Constitution Assembly. But we could have written better constitution.
I had asked the then PM Koirala to keep the issues of inclusion, proportion and citizenship exact as it was in the interim constitution because it (interim constitution) was drafted in agreement of all the political parties. I had some disagreements regarding the constitution. But I announced the commencement of the new constitution because I believe in democracy.
But if you had taken stand and convinced the political parties, wouldn’t the implementation of constitution be easier now?
I did what I should have from my side. I accepted a democratic process.