Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Country first

Himal Khabarpatrika spoke to people in Birganj about key constitutional issues. Translated excerpts below:

Himal Khabarpatrika: Do you think the country will get a new constitution in seven months?
Om Prakash Rungta (social worker):
The political leaders are fighting all the time, so when will they find the time?

Om Prakash Sikariya (President, Birganj Industries and Commerce Association): The Constituent Assembly is also a parliament, which has slowed down the constitution writing process. There has to be a separate parliament and CA.

Pramod Kushbaha (President, Nepal University Teachers Association, Thakur Ram Multiple Campus): CA members have forgotten why they're in the assembly and people need to remind them.

Rajendra Prasad Koirala (intellectual): There's just no alternative. Plus, if we get federalism wrong, we'll go the way the way of Bangladesh and Pakistan, which look like they will split apart.

What do you think about the anti-secular voices that have been raised recently?
Nurul Huda (engineer): Federalism is impossible without secularism in Nepal.

Binay Yadav (Nepal Janata Party): Hinduism is the greatest democracy, and it's taught us what democracy means. It should remain the state religion. Hinduism and democracy complement each other in Nepal so we should be a Hindu republic.

Yogendra Shah (UCPN-Maoist): If Hinduism is a strong religion, it doesn't need special state protection. The state should protect all religions equally and the new constitution must ensure this. There is no alternative to secularism in Nepal.

Man Deb Hajara (Dalit activist): Dalits are being discriminated against by Hinduism. They are not allowed to enter temples even though they are themselves Hindu. Hinduism causes ethnic and religious discrimination, so Nepal should be a secular state.

Arabind Shah (CPN-UML): The state does not have any religion and Nepalis need not take it upon themselves to protect Hinduism. Nepal should be a secular state.

Sabita Shah (women's rights activist): The new constitution should confirm the country's current secular status. If Nepal becomes a Hindu country once again, there will be another revolution.

What kind of provisions should the new constitution have regarding language?
Bishwambar Sharma (associate professor):
The new constitution should ensure the right of a person to use the language he/she knows. Sometimes, we ignore reality for the sake of politics. The country comes first. Language is a medium to communicate. We should not have conditions on language in the new constitution.

Babulal Prasad Kumal (NC): There should be one national language that different provinces can use to communicate with one another. Each province should have its own language.

Lalbabu Raut (MJF): If we say Nepal is a multilingual country, it should adopt a multi-lingual policy. Maithali, Bhojpuri, Abadhi are the major languages spoken in the Madhes. Hindi is the language of communication in the region. Therefore, Nepali and Hindi should be the national languages of the country. Hindi should be the language of the Madhes Pradesh.

Laxmi Bhatta (social worker): Nepal is my country, I am Nepali and Nepali is my language. How can Hindi be my language? Nepali should be the national language.

What do you think of the Maoists' proposal to change the national flag?
Rajeshwor Prasad Koirala:
The suryavansi and chandravansi symbols on our flag represent the monarchy. They ought to be changed to represent Dalits, women, Janajati and Madhesi communities instead.

Rajeshwor Tiwari (lawyer): We didn't think there was an alternative to monarchy, yet we changed that. Why shouldn't we change the flag too?

Babulal Prasad Kumal: The national flag should not be changed as it represents the national identity.

Constitution 2010, previous articles on the constitution from Nepali Times archives

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)