Lyarkyal Lama is the only CA member from the Yolmo community and the only UML Janajati CA member to criticise the ethnic federal model. He advocates inclusive and proportional representation with specal privileges for ethnic communities. Translated excerpts from an interview with Sanghu:
Lyarkyal Lama: I did not oppose the paper in its totality. It has merits and flaws. Prithvi Narayan Shah's contribution has been mentioned in the paper in the context of Nepali history and geography. But to borrow the words of fellow UML CA member Shanti Devi Chamar from Kapilvastu, if Shah's contribution is worth mentioning, so is the contribution of Gautam Buddha. Including Buddha's name in the new constitution will confirm that his birthplace is Nepal, not India as many believe.
As a Janajati CA member, why are you not satisfied with a paper that proposes ethnicity based provinces?
It isn't possible to create ethnic provinces in a country where there are 103 ethnic groups. For instance, if the Bhote community with a population of 50,000 got Jadan province, why shouldn't 150,000 Yolmos get a province too? A proportional representation system, on the other hand, will ensure all communities representation, big or small.
Isn't it enough to give small communities special privileges?
We need both provinces and rights in a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious country such as ours. But it won't be wise in the long run to create ethnic provinces, since that would invite further conflict.
What is wrong with the paper then?
Creating provinces and delineating boundaries has not been done properly. The provinces should comprise the Himal, hilly and Tarai regions. We can create 13 or 14 provinces. The Tarai people are demanding a Madhes Pradesh, which is not possible, since many other communities live there. There should be three provinces in the Tarai, three provinces in the Himalayan region, and seven or eight provinces in the hills. Himali people living from Taplejung to Darchula have the same religion, culture and script. They all belong to the Bhote community. Therefore, they can be divided into three provinces based on geography. We have to take the help of experts and boundaries should be outlined scientifically.
You are not in favour of ethnic federalism. Are you then in favour of Bahun-Chhetris?
I am not favouring anyone. When the committee proposed ethnic federalism, top leaders, specially Bahun and Chhetris, were concerned that other communities would take over the country. I asked them to think of how oppressed Janajatis, Madhesis and Dalits must have felt for 240 years. Yet under this scheme, some marginalised communities will continue to be left out. How do you think they feel?
What if we form a commission and resolve the issue of state restructuring?
It's a good idea but should have been done before. However, the commission would not be above the CA, which is not obliged to pass its recommendations.
If these debates continue, the constitution won't be written by 28 May.
With political consensus and hard work, we can meet the deadline. If 601 CA members truly believe the new constitution should enable all communities to co-exist peacefully, then it will be done on time. The more important question is whether it helps make a new Nepal. We have been writing and rewriting constitutions since 1947. The point is to liberate the oppressed without trampling on the rights of others.
Constitution 2010, Nepali Times coverage of issues related to writing the new constitution