Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Including the Madhes


The democratic movement in Nepal has considered the CA and the constitution writing process one of its key objectives. But for marginalised communities, the constitution writing represents not just a map for the state but an opportunity to gain respect. This is because the new constitution will legitimise the voices of the marginalised and give meaning to their relationship with the state.

This is where it becomes crucial for the Madhesi community who had participated in great numbers in the CA elections. The belief was that the new constitution would include the legitimate wishes of the Madhesi people.

If the transformation of Nepal can take place peacefully through the CA then it will certainly strengthen democracy and national unity. But there are still some dissatisfied factions in the Tarai that are not yet present in the CA and it is important that their voices are also included in the new constitution through dialogue. The more the constitution writing process can address and incorporate the sentiments of the Madhesi community, the more the country will gain political stability. Therefore the constitution writing process should not be viewed as a purely technical process but a sensitive political one.

The demands of the Tarai people are not very different from those of other regions. They too wish for the country's transformation into a federal democratic republic which is inclusive, and want long-term peace. The Madhesi movement and Madhesi leaders do n't believe that the state and its leaders hold a positive view of the Madhesi community. Despite the CA elections the ambiance of distrust still continues.

For a few years the Madhesis' political, social, economic and cultural wishes and requirements have been aired through various media. These aspirations have been incorporated in the state reconstruction process, which is a sensitive and long-term issue and has been the subject of discussion and controversy. We have to carefully consider the Madhesi expectations as well as that of the whole country.

The Madhes itself has multiple cultures, religions, languages and ethnic groups. To establish a clear vision for the Tarai, the Madhesi parties first need to take certain initiatives. The constitution writing process can progress smoothly if the parties can develop a common understanding that is acceptable to the major parties as well. If the constitution is based on understanding rather than mathematical foundation we can hope for long lasting peace and an end to conflict. Among the 25 parties that have been elected in the CA, most seem to agree on the establishment of an inclusive, secular and federal republic state. Taking this agreement positively and completing the constitution is the national requirement today.

If the new constitution involves popular participation of the Madhesis and establishes autonomy in the region, it will not only address their needs but also bring in acceptance and a sense of common ownership. We also need to consider the concerns of people from other regions towards the Tarai.

To implement the agreements signed between the Nepal government and the United Democratic Madhesi Morcha, there should be an understanding between the Maoists, NC and the UML. It is also necessary to have similar understanding among the Madhesi parties to address the Madhesi issues in the constitution. Civil society, in turn, should help develop cultural tolerance through discussion and assist the parties in this process.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)