I 've just returned from the public consultation in Nawalparasi. We toured Parasi and villages in outlying areas. There were many elderly people who had walked hours to collect their old age state benefit of Rs 500.
Previous constitutions have not compelled the state to respect the people. For this reason, we, the CA members, mustn't forget those left out. People are curious as well as anxious about how the new constitution will be written. Although past constitutions were written in the name of the people, they could not change the face of Nepal and inequality and discrimination persisted.
The people told us what their priorities are: free education, primary health services and employment. The state has to provide jobs, ensure reservation for women, the marginalised and downtrodden. They are fed up with corruption and inefficiency. A constitution that does not address these issues will fail to close the gap between the rich and the poor, they felt.
They also want the state to help in making use of agricultural and forest resources, support for the landless and respect for the old, women and children. It was evident the government hasn't been able to win over the people's trust. There is deep frustration about the collapse of law and order and extended periods of strikes and blockades. The people want the disruptive culture of blocking highways stopped.
An over-politicised administration will never be able to address these grievances. The people are very clear about what the problems are and what needs to be done. Are our politicians ready to address them?