Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), Law Minister and Samajbadi Party Chair Upendra Yadav have clarified that his party has joined the government with a mission to amend the constitution. According to Yadav, every issue cannot be addressed from the streets but through understanding, consensus and parliamentary process.
Prime Minister (PM) K P Sharma Oli, without prior consultation with Yadav, shifted him from the Health Ministry to Law Ministry when he reorganized his Council of Ministers a week ago. Various reports claimed that Yadav was not happy with the PM but Yadav said he is happy to join the Law Ministery and added this might be his chance to take the constitution to the amendment process. He also clarified that he is still in the Council of Ministers since his party has not decided to quit the government yet.
His remarks come at a time when Federal Council Chair Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has been pressuring Yadav to quit the government arguing that continuing with the government might not benefit the party and its agenda.
Reporters’ Club Nepal President Rishi Dhamala caught up with Yadav, in a television interview Janata Janna Chahanchan (Citizens want to know), to discuss the issues regarding the constitution amendment and his reluctance to quit the government.
Excerpt of the Interview
Although Dr. Bhattarai has been pressurizing you to quit the government, why did you assume office at the Law Ministry?
I am still at the ministry because the party has not decided to quit the government.
The ruling Nepal Communist Party did not consult with you and your party before shifting you from the Health Ministry. The government has never consulted with your party while formulating policies. Dr. Bhattarai has argued that, in such circumstances, continuing with the government might be disadvantageous to the party. What do you say?
Yes, I agree that the PM did not think it necessary to hold consultation with me while making changes in the Council of Ministers. While I was away, he could have discussed it with other party leaders. But, this does not conclude that we should quit the government. It is clear that we joined the government with a mission…a mission to institutionalize the federal republic. For that, the errors in the Constitution of Nepal should be corrected through amendment.
Second, the questions of the national issues including the voices of Madhesi and Khas people that have not been addressed since centuries should be addressed through the revision in the constitution.
Do you think PM Oli is in favor of the constitution amendment?
There is no constitution in the world that is not amendable. The issue needs to be negotiated with the ruling party before arriving at a conclusion about what to do. Until then, we cannot say the prime minister does not want an amendment.
The government, in May last year, had agreed to address the issues and demands raised by your party in consensus by amending the constitution. But why hasn’t the agreement been implemented yet?
I agree that the deal is yet to be implemented. But, there is still time. First, we need to figure out what blocked the implementation of the agreement. For that, we have to negotiate with the ruling party and the prime minister.
Why did the prime minister shift you from health ministry to the law ministry?
I don’t know why he sent me here. I have not talked to him about it yet. It might be because he wants me to make concrete efforts to correct the drawbacks of the constitution.
Should not you justify the people why amend the constitution?
Of course, we should. We have raised issues regarding the fallacies of the constitution several times during the constitution promulgation and Madhes movement. The world has realized this. Moreover, the constitution amendment is also a responsibility of the ruling party as they are in the government and the parliament. They should show eagerness to revise the constitution. And, I have arrived here (law ministry) to deal with the rest of the technical aspects. If the prime minister becomes ready, the process of constitution amendment gets a go-ahead.
What are the clauses that need amendment?
The first issue is the question of federalism. Second, the province should be granted full rights and resources, which lags in the constitution. Likewise, there are issues such as the electoral system, the forms of government and citizenship which should be corrected through amendment.
Will you begin your homework to register amendment proposal in the next convention (अधिवेषण)?
I will begin the homework. But, the prime minister and the ruling party should be ready for this. If the council of ministers and the prime minister are become ready, the proposal will just be a piece of paper. The general public hopes that when they (the ruling party) become ready we will cooperate with them the constitution will be amended.
Our concern is that the voice of almost half of the population (Madhesi and indigenous people) was not addressed in the constitution. There were people who welcomed the constitution but there are people as well who objected it. Should not the constitution be for them as well?
Why was the constitution amended weeks after it was promulgated? It signs to the fact that the constitution is full of errors. The constitution amendment proposal was tabled in the parliament, but it became unsuccessful after failing to garner a two-thirds majority. Prime Minister himself and Pushpa Kamal Dahal also signed the agreement to amend the constitution. It shows that the constitution requires an amendment.
Although they signed the agreement, they have failed to implement it. Why?
They will give a nod. They should be ready for it.
What if they don’t become ready?
If they don’t become ready, we are independent to make our own decision. I want to make clear that we are still struggling to make the constitution correct although we are in the Council of Ministers. We are struggling in the parliament as well. If the issue can not reach a conclusion, we will take it to the streets.
But, taking the issue to the streets can not always solve the problems. They can be solved through understanding, consensus, and parliament. That’s why we joined the government.