(Interview with KP Sharma Oli, Deputy Leader of UML Parliamentary Party)
Why do you want constitutional changes within 10 years of the constitution being framed?
Time is no factor for bringing changes in the constitution. Changes have to be made as and when required, to change and rectify mistakes, to solve problems that have arisen, and so on. We feel that now is the time when certain changes have to be effected in the constitution and have asked that it be revised. The constitution is not something that can never be changed, nor is it any kind of "Dharma Shastra". It is there to provide direction to society, to help society function and grow properly.
Are there any grave problems that the nation is facing at the present moment? If there are no problems, is change required at the present moment?
For the upliftment of the people, practical and positive steps have to be taken, good governance has to be provided, security has to be provided, corruption has to be controlled, agencies that are at present working to control corruption have to be made efficient and effective. Free and fair elections have to be held. The government has proved incapable of solving these problems. The Nepali Congress will not be able to solve these problems. If elections are held with the kind of mentality the Congress has, they will not be free and fair. We need an all-party government for that. In the same way, changes must be made in the constitution regarding the formation of governments. Changes have to be brought about if we are to convince farmers, businessmen and labourers that something can and will be done for them.
If changes are going to be brought about in the constitution, is it going to be limited to only the one or two questions you have raised?
We have not stated how many changes have to be made. It can be 10, 15 or 20 changes. Questions pertaining to election areas, to free and fair elections and others related to it. Not only about a coalition government. Fair and just administration to control corruption, a guarantee of free and fair elections and other issues are being raised. Activities that are against the spirit of the constitution, issues not clear in the constitution, ambiguity in the constitution, side-lining of the constitution, ineffectiveness of the constitution and how these can be resolved are what we want to discuss. We are clear about this.
The Maoists want changes of a more extreme kind. They want to burden the people with an extreme form of constitution, want to bring about changes by unconstitutional means. We are not party to this. Another group, the extremist rightwingers, have been stating, since the time the constitution was introduced, that the constitution was framed under pressure from certain people and that they are not prepared to accept it. They do not accept that sovereignty rests with the people and do not care about the rights of the people. They want to put all of this aside and make the people powerless again. The UML does not support this view. The UML is not prepared to put pressure on the constitution, destroy it, or apply unconstitutional means to bring about changes. We have asked that changes be brought about by constitutional means. Only the people have the right to bring about changes in the constitution, by whatever means. If the ways in which changes can be brought about are blocked, then the people will bring about changes through a revolution as happened in 1990. Constitutional means are available for the people to bring about changes. There is no need for the people to use violence. We have said that to protect the gains of the 1990 revolution and to safeguard them, to protect and make use of the constitutional rights, changes have to be brought about.
What are the differences between your party and the Maoists?
What are the Maoists doing, what do they want to do? What is the UML doing and what do they want to do? If you look at this, then the differences between the Maoists and us become clear, don't they? Just because people use the term "communism" in the names of their parties does not mean that they believe in the same thing. If you study the papers of our 5th and 6th conventions, it becomes clear what we want to do.
When the constitution was being made, the UML agreed to support it, but critically. After that it said that it would use the constitution to move ahead. Have you really accepted the establishment of democracy?
We have used parliament. The parliament is a body to be used. Parliament has to be used for the benefit of the nation and people. It must be used for national security. People are not there for the benefit of the parliament. Parliaments change, laws change, but people are always there. Only the nation and people remain.