Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
"If the constitution isn't written, the Maoists will be to blame"

Increased tension amongst the parties has convinced many the approaching May 2010 deadline for the constitution will not be met, as Himal Khabarpatrika discovered during discussions held in Surkhet's Birendranagar.

Himal Khabarpatrika: How do you view the constitution-writing process? Do you think the deadline will
be met?
Khagendra Thapa (teacher):
I never thought the deadline would be met. People are trying to split up the country, and we face mountains of challenges. The biggest issue is that of federalism. I seriously doubt the constitution will be written on time.
Pitamber Dhakal (Vice-Principal, Surkhet Campus): The Rana regime ended in 1951, but as we had not decided what kind of democracy we wanted, it was not sustainable. We are facing the same situation now: the parties do not know what kind of constitution they want.
Uddhav Pyakurel (researcher): Our politicians are accustomed to coming to last hour agreements, so they will agree on a constitution. But without discussing the contentious issues, it will be difficult to come up with the type of constitution the people expect.
Hariharnath Yogi (teacher): Hopes of a constitution and sustainable peace are fading. Maybe the constitution will get written in another two or three years?
Prem Bahadur Thapa (Chairman, Nepal Workers Peasants Party, Surkhet): We'll get a constitution within the period specified but the issue is what kind of constitution. Better to have a good constitution rather than one that might leave us without a country.

Should we insist on having the constitution ready by May or extend the term of the Constituent Assembly?
Khagendra Thapa:
The biggest problem lies within the Maoists, and this has resulted in the call for 'civilian supremacy'. If the constitution is not written it will be because of the Maoist protests.
Rishi Gautam (Bheri-Karnali State Committee Secretariat Member, UCPN-Maoist): Politics has obstructed the whole process of constitution writing. Everything the Maoists say is viewed with suspicion. This has to be bridged by trust among the leadership.
Arjun Bahadur Airi (Assistant Principal, Birendranagar Multiple Campus): If we can't meet the deadline, then we could amend the interim constitution or add time to come up with a good constitution.

What kind of federalism do the residents of Surkhet want?
Pitamber Dhakal:
The decision to go for federalism was an emotional one made in the aftermath of the Madhes movement. Before that there was only some talk of state restructuring, there were no demands for federalism. If the mountain, hill and Tarai regions are separated the Nepali people will be dealt a terrrible blow. Federalism must incorporate regions from the north to the south.
Uddhav Pyakurel: Federalism was meant for inclusion. But if this is done on the basis of ethnicity, it will lead to more divisions.
Arjun Bahadur Airi: There are no calls for ethnic federalism here. Even though the Tharus in the south and the janajatis in the north are demanding rights this is to achieve inclusion. Federalism shouldn't be based on ethnicity, and neither should provinces be named after ethnicities as this will give rise to the feeling that some groups won and others lost.
Pabitra Shahi (social worker): Federalism is for the distribution of power, for development and social progress. It's to safeguard national sovereignity, not to split the state into pieces. Everyone should be able to feel that federalism was for their sake.
Khagendra Thapa: We have to ensure that provinces won't go broke and consider the risks of divisive forms of federalism. If we really were to talk about ethnic inclusion, then we'd have to talk of Chhetris and Bahuns, who constitute 15 and 12 per cent of the population respectively.
Sanju Singh Biswokarma (Dalit rights worker): The disadvantaged communities do not want pity or alms, they want participation on the basis of population.
Prem Bahadur Thapa: Federalism should join the north to the south. If this is done then language rights can be given to local states. The provincial capital should be in Surkhet on the basis of its regional headquarters. Dang could also be made a central capital.
Shobha BK (social worker): If One Madhes One Pradesh comes into being then all the capital will accumulate in the Tarai at the expense of other regions. If the midwest becomes one province then what will be the basis by which it will sustain itself? If we go into federalism without doing our homework it will lead to more problems.

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

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)