Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Autonomous Karnali

In a discussion organised by Himal Khabarpatrika last week in Jumla, people revealed that they are concerned about the protracted political impasse and delayed constitution-writing process. They also unanimously supported an autonomous Karnali region with special provisions for its development. Translated excerpts:

How hopeful are you about the constitution-writing process?

Birkha Bahadur Budha (Treasurer, RPP-Nepal): The CA members were elected to write a new constitution incorporating the people's aspirations. They seem to have submitted themselves to their party's interests and foreign forces.

Debi Sejuwal (Chair, Appellate Bar Unit): Both the CA members and party leaders are fighting only for their existence. They can't make one decision without consulting India, China or America. Instead of writing the constitution we are contemplating which country Nepal should obey: India, China or America.

Gajendra Mahat (District in-charge, Maoists): It shouldn't be so hard to write the constitution. The republic has already been established and although there are some disputes on federalism, the big parties are near a consensus. The issue of the state executive will easily be solved. We can even get a good constitution with amendments in the interim constitution. But the question is, will whatever document we write be implemented? The president's violation of the constitution is a bad portent.

Khadga Sejuwal (NC): The army chief issue caused a lot of insecurity and hindered the constitution-writing process. But the people are aware of what's necessary, and if the parties fail to write the constitution, the people will do it themselves.

Would an amended interim constitution be acceptable?
Durga Prasad Pandey (President, NGO Federation, Jumla):
So much money has already been spent on the new constitution. Frankly, if the politicians can't run this country, let's give it up to India or China.

Sarpananda Hamal (President, Nepal Red Cross Society, Jumla): The interim constitution is temporary, and doesn't incorporate all of the people's aspirations. While it may take a while to write a new constitution, we must complete it.

Laxmi Kanya Budha (Chair, Republic Women Network): If the interim constitution is appropriately amended, then it can serve as our new constitution. The real issue is to ensure that the people's aspirations are met.

Bishnu Timilsina (advocate): The constitution can't be written overnight. Besides, we don't need a perfect constitution. It just has to enforced properly. For instance, the current political problems wouldn't have occured had Pushpa Kamal Dahal followed the constitution. The President made mistakes too, but the Maoists committed a major wrong in halting the constitution-writing process.

Gajendra Mahat: We need to stop worrying about whether the constitution will be written and actually write it. There is need for more discussions on federal states and the rights to be given to them.

What type of federalism does Karnali need and on what basis?
German Nepali (Dalit activist):
Federalism became a hot topic because the centre has too much power in the current unitary system. Decentralisation and the devolution of power will ultimately strengthen the federal structure. Karnali people want federalism based on geography and the availability of natural resources.

Kantika Sejuwal (Principal, Karnali Secondary School): Karnali's voice won't be heard no matter how loudly we shout. The media doesn't care about us, especially our gender issues. Women are discriminated against at every step yet don't have a voice in the CA.

Nanadraj Dhital (Disabled Rehabilitation and Development Centre): It's unfortunate Karnali hasn't been discussed during the debate on federalism. Some argue Karnali should be a separate state but it is not clear what basis is suitable. The states should incorporate hill, mountain and Tarai regions, since they can't survive independently. No matter how many states we make, Nepali national sentiment shouldn't be fragmented.

Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution

1. AnujB
"..federalism based on geography and the availability of natural resources" is well taken and reasonable arguement. This is based on the Karnali's prevailing geo-political equation. If that is what Karnali people demands, that's good for Karnali. On the contrary, if majority of the people demands federalism on the basis of ethnic majority of the region, then that should also be worked out. It is like Nepal and Nepali equivalent to Limbu and Limbuwan, Magar and Magarat, Tamang and Tamsaling , Tharu and Tharuhat, and Mithila Basi and Mithila. What wrong with that?? Common, time changed and people's socio-political consciousnes has raised well above and don't underestimate their demand...It is not for lousy leaders to decide what should be people's fate, but it is people who decide it!!! My sincere request to Nepalitimes, we want to hear what Adivashi Janajati leaders have to share their opinion on this issue...let us hear their side of seems this paper gives too little space on Adivashi Janajati's issues !

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)