INDRA LAL SHRESTHA
In the penultimate edition of the Constitution Yatra, Himal Khabarpatrika interacted with the people of Kanchanpur, Mahendranagar on the constitution-making process, in which participants emphasised the need for consensus, and vigilance from the media and civil society.
How do you view the ongoing constitution-writing process?
Tekraj Pant (associate professor): It is time for civil society to be vigilant and do something for the nation instead of going after the political parties. Party cadres should put aside their fears of being expelled from the party and decide on issues with their own conscience, rather than waiting for party directions.
Yagya Raj Joshi (UCPN-Maoist): There is little time remaining for promulgation of the new constitution and agreement on state restructuring. Intellectuals, political parties and informed citizens all have to take this seriously. If consensus is not reached, the country might slide back into chaos.
Yagya Raj Joshi (NC): We might lose the achievements of Jana Andolan II if the current deadlock persists. Everyone has made mistakes, but the Maoists, as the biggest party, have not acted responsibly by not returning captured land, capturing more land, and assaulting journalists. They have diverted the focus from writing the constitution. Civil society and the media should point this out and bring them back on track.
Ishwari Prasad Kharel (UML): There has been some progress, but the political parties have failed to address the aspirations of the people. We have to find out who is responsible for delaying the writing of the constitution. Despite talks about consensus, the Maoists have already announced federal states, which is the task of the CA. Writing the constitution is impossible if the Maoists try to impose their ideas on others.
Has there been enough pressure on political parties?
Nara Bahadur Saud (civil society member): Civil society and the press are not pushing the issue as they did during Jana Andolan II. However, the real problem is that the leaders are not honest. Five months will be enough to complete the constitution if the leaders of major political parties work together in earnest. There is no alternative to consensus.
Bhawaraj Regmi (NGO Federation): In the past, NGOs played their part in creating public awareness. Now, we have been organising interaction and discussion programs with CA members where they make promises they never keep.
Chitranga Thapa (journalist): Political parties could not deliver on the promises they made during Jana Andolan II. They are not focused on their real tasks. Civil society and the media should pressurise the political parties to write the constitution first.
How can we reach a consensus?
Yagya Raj Joshi (UCPN-Maoist): The other political parties are conspiring to stage a presidential coup instead of writing a new constitution by May. They want to defeat the Maoists by tagging them as terrorists once again. This should be exposed and a consensus should be forged among the political parties. The past agreement should be reviewed and a new understanding reached.
Yagya Raj Joshi (NC): Civil society and the press should point out who is responsible for the delay in writing the constitution. The Maoists feel superior after winning the CA elections and are boosted by the strength of the PLA. They should withdraw the declaration of federal states, immediately end the capturing of private property, and discard the idea that they can capture power through street protests.
Ishwari Prasad Kharel (UML): Civil society should bring together leaders of the three political parties and point out their mistakes. The Maoists' totalitarian ideology won't be realised. We have to come to an agreement and move ahead and give people a new constitution by the stipulated time.
Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution