Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Doti speaks

How do you view the constitution writing process?
Pradip Deuba
(Nepali Congress): There should have been a national consensus on specific points regarding the constitution. But how can they be achieved when there are disputes, even within the parties, about what portfolio each party will get? It is uncertain whether the constitution will be written on time.

Beni Madhav Joshi (National Janamorcha): This is the result of ignoring opinions from small parties and letting the big parties do what they want.

Gopi Nepal (Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal): Perhaps the Maoists could have done something, but they weren't allowed to work. Unless the king is included in the process, Nepal's constitution is incomplete.

Keshab Pariyar (social worker): The pace at which the constitution writing process is progressing is encouraging ethnic and regional conflicts and pushing the country into utter chaos.

Raju Nepali (NGO worker): There is no need to lose hope. We can still expect that the constitution will be written on time. The question here is on the issue of federalism and what shape it will take.

What sort of federalism do the people of Doti support?
Padam Singh Bom (NC):
The people of Doti should have the power to decide on issues regarding the development of their own region.

Mukunda Rana (NGO worker): Federalism hasn't yet been discussed with us. However, federal states should be made keeping in mind the needs for development, education, food and social transformation in the far west. The whole region should be a single state.

Sashi Shob (Dalit Women's Organisation): Just because Nepal becomes a federal republic doesn't mean all our problems will be solved. We should have the right to be a part of the process when our resources are being allocated. We should also be able to use them. The basis for federalism should be geographic.

Dil Bahadur Bom (NC): Seti and Mahakali should be a single state and Doti should be its headquarters.

Keshab Pariyar: No system will work unless we change our attitude.

Pradip Deuba: There is a need to address ethnicity and regional identity. If the sentiment of everyone is taken into consideration, there will be no danger of disintegration.

Sapana Bohara (Nepal Student Union): We need federalism so that Nepal's regions do not have to be dependent on Kathmandu for everything. Decisions regarding federalism should be made on the basis of population, geography and economic issues.

But Doti hasn't been able to utilise its natural resources or the budget received from the centre.
Mukunda Rana:
The people of Doti do not have even the basic facilities. The government investment in health, education and employment is meagre. Why would anyone want to stay here? No one wants to invest here. The budget for the entire far west Nepal is equal to that of one district in the east. Those who have migrated to Kathmandu from Doti don't want to invest two per cent of their earnings in their district.

Shashi Shob: Leaders come here only to ask for votes. And the state has always neglected us because they only listen to what the politicians in Kathmandu say.

Keshab Pariyar: We always blame the centre and do nothing. There isn't a single hotel in this district because people fear that they will have to touch Dalits. Donor agencies are sent away if they come here. Everything is politicised. We have to change our attitude to bring development.

Beni Madhav Joshi: Once people are educated and no longer poor they will ask where all the development funds are going, which will make it hard
for corrupt leaders to pocket

Bhes Raj Joshi (businessman): Doti is stricken with poverty. People do not have the resources to invest here and those who do don't want to. How will autonomy work in a place that has not had a local body for the last seven years?

New constitution 25% finished

Sonam Chejung Lama, UML, CA member, Mugu

What are you discussing in your committee?

I'm in the State Structure Committee. The UML wants a prime minister directly elected by the people. The Maoists say there should be an executive president. The NC wants a ceremonial presidency and a prime minister elected by the parliament.

Everyone thinks they're right, so it's hard to settle the issue. It doesn't look like they'll find common ground. Unless the leaders of the major parties give it a serious thought, the constitution will not be written on time, in which case there will be chaos. Sometimes I'm shocked at how protective members are of their petty party interests.

So how much of the constitution have you written?
Although we've discussed the constitution at length, we've only finished writing a quarter of it. We have been working. We meet at 8AM everyday and I never have a minute to do anything else.

Why is it behind schedule then?
We have been held up by political instability, the big egos of the major party leaders, attempts to keep yesterday's leaders out of power and their unwillingness to relinquish it.

The Constitutional Committee is without a leader. Won't this affect the constitution-writing process?
The committee hasn't had a leader since Madhav Kumar Nepal became the prime minister. The politicians should now quickly agree to appoint someone. If they do so, constitution-writing will remain on track.

Just the preliminary draft done

Navaraj Koirala, Nepal Majdur Kisan Party, CA member, Kalikot

How much of the constitution has your committee finished?

I'm in the Natural Resources, Economic Rights and Sharing of Revenues Committee and we are discussing the preliminary draft made by a subcommittee for discussion in the plenary.

Will the constitution be written on time?
Quarreling between the ruling and opposition parties has delayed the constitution's completion. In any case, I worry that it won't protect every Nepali's interests.

Instead of writing the constitution, politicians have quarreled and obstructed the house and cast the entire process into doubt.

How was your experience in the CA last year?
I loved Kathmandu when I first came here as a student. Now, I feel suffocated. Criminals abound while drinking water and land waste are mismanaged. To avoid all of this, I think we should move the capital to Dang.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)