Tag Archives: Constituent Assembly

Debunking Dr. Karan Singh’s Misinformed Comments on #Nepal at Indian Rajya Sabha

– by Nepalforeignaffairs Team

Dr Karan Singh, speaking about Nepal in Indian parliament
Picture: @subhash580‘s twitter feed

Dr. Karan Singh’s statement (click here to watch his full statement) in Indian parliament yesterday is full of factual errors and lies. Perceived as a person who’s knowledgeable about Nepal, Singh’s understanding of Nepal’s complexities and nuances appear to be very insufficient and based on a distorted view on Nepal’s situation, probably fed by a few sources who do not understand Nepal very well. Here is a point-by-point evaluation of his claims versus the facts.

[Related: Pictures show how Nepal is coping with the inhumane blockade by India]

1. The constitution alienates a large section of the population

Fact: The constitution was voted for by almost 90% of all members of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, the elected body that was drafting the constitution. It has been approved by a large section of the population, including many Madhesis. A large majority of Madhesi elected representatives voted for the constitution.

2. Madhesis are 51% of Nepal’s population

Fact: Madhesis constitute less than 20% of Nepal’s population (see this factcheck article on the widely misreported Madhesi population statistics). Nepal is a diverse country and Nepal’s plain area, called the Terai/Madhes is home to various groups. The total number of people living in the Terai is about 50% of the country’s population, but it includes a large number of non-Madhesi people.

[Related: #Nepal: Madhesi groups have the highest representation in government jobs]

3. If the present constitution is continued, identity of Madhes is going to be destroyed

Fact: The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, thus protecting their identity (although majority of Nepalese expressed in last elections that there are better ways to protect identity than through such ethnicity-based provinces). The constitution has provisions for multiple languages to be used in local bodies. No province has been created for other ethnic groups including Gurung, Magar, Tamang, etc. Madhesis are treated specially by the constitution, which many argue, is against the spirit of equality in democracy.

[Related: Did India deceive or did Madhesi Morcha misunderstand?]

4. The eight-point agreement in 2007 with the government headed by GP Koirala has been jettisoned

Fact: Previous governments have made such agreements with many ethnic groups including Tharus, Limbus, Chure-Bhawar society and so on. Like explained in point 5 below, multiple groups live together and have competing claims. It has been a subject of long political debate in Nepal and so far there has been no consensus. The arrangement proposed in the current constitution is the only one that has received least opposition and was accepted by about 90% members of the Constituent Assembly. The constitution ensures a separate province for Madhesis, while other groups’ demands for similar provinces have not been respected. There are voices within Nepal who think this special treatment to a small section of Madhesi politicians is unfair for the rest of the groups who share these regions.

[Related: A controlled Indian blockade on Nepal (BBC report)]

5. Madhesh has been sliced up in such a way that they are marginalised in all but one province

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Geographical distribution of some major ethnic groups in Nepal, from among more than 100 different groups (based on 2001 census data)

Fact: Nepal is a diverse country with more than 100 ethnic groups and languages (see this post for a statistics on some of these groups). The settlements in Nepal are mixed (many ethnic groups live close together) and it is extremely difficult to carve out provinces that is exclusive to each group, while still being fair to others. There are competing claims by different ethnic groups for provinces in the same areas. For example, in the Eastern Terai, Madhesis constitute less than 20% of the population but some Madhesi politicians (most of who have lost elections there) want it to be named as an exclusive Madhesi province. Other ethnic groups like Tharus, Limbus, Rajbamshis, Chure-Bhawar society also demand similar provisions in the same region. For over 8 years, this discussion has been going on in Nepal, including during two elections for the Constituent Assembly, that were dominated by this very debate. Finally, various parties agreed on the current federal solution that has the least amount of opposition. During the election of the Constituent Assembly, the agenda of ethnic-based provinces was defeated by huge margin. Similarly, the previous constituent assembly failed to draft a constitution because the ruling parties of that time wanted ethnicity based provinces while the opposition disagreed.

[Related: India puts Nepal on Ventilator Support by blockading the country’s imports (BBC Report)]]

6. Proportional representation theory has not been accepted

Fact: This is wrong. Please see Article 50 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

7. In marriage, discrimination regarding citizens as far as citizens marrying Indians

Fact: This is also wrong. Please see Part 2, Article 10-15 of the current constitution. More details on this can be read in this article about the many factual errors in Indian External Affairs Minister’s speech.

8. Madhesis have been looked down in that country for many centuries

Fact: Madhesis have been treated specially in Nepal’s history. They used to be part of the Royal court in Kathmandu. Today, several Madhesi groups (like Dalits) are among the most backward and disadvantaged in Nepal. At the same time, several other Madhesi groups (like Madhesi Brahmins, Kayasthas, Rajputs) are ahead of all other ethnic groups in Nepal in terms of Human Development Index (HDI), education, wealth, access to government services and opportunities. Madhesi is not a single homogeneous population group.

9. The current constitution goes back on the provisions made in the interim constitution

Fact: The current constitution is drafted by an elected Constituent Assembly that was sovereign. The Assembly was elected to replace the interim constitution based on the popular will expressed through elections. Current constitution ensures more progressive provisions including for language, women and minorities. It includes affirmative action provisions for additional groups like disabled and poor, which the interim constitution lacked. The current constitution ensures federalism, and a separate province for Madhesis. which the interim constitution did not have

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Elections 2013: Challenges Ahead for Nepal

The government has finally announced dates for the CA polls (19 November). This has raised hopes of Nepal getting a new elected body. Not yet time to celebrate hoping that Nepal will have a government that is accountable to people and its acts transparent. Similarly, there will not be a competition among political parties based on issues and ideologies in the upcoming CA polls. The only reason to be happy about this announcement si that this election, if it happens, may remove the current government of bureaucrats.

Siromani Dhungana
UWB

2013 elections are going to be held in the same circumstances in which 2008 CA elections were held.  Almost same faces, mainly same political parties and more or less same agendas. Some politicians have changed their parties but the ideological division that existed in 2008 remains unchanged.

Confrontation (reality) vs Consensus (Illusion)

The problem is politicians are divided not on the basis of ideology or philosophy rather on the basis of their personal interest and benefit. There is wide rift between communists and non-communist forces. The division, a the moment, is in its worst level. There is division within communist forces and also within non-communist forces too. This deep division, almost to the level of hatred, may create obstacles in the election process. It will certainly be a stumbling block in the constitution writing process as it was before. Continue reading Elections 2013: Challenges Ahead for Nepal

Constituent Assembly Gives itself Another Three Months

For the record: The Legislature-parliament (which is the non-constituent making part of the Constituent Assembly that also works as parliament) today extended the term of the CA by another three months. This extension comes a day after Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai was elected the 35th Prime Minister of Nepal. But these two developments are unrelated. The proposal to extend the CA was tabled by the Jhalanath Khanal-led cabinet that was replaced today by Baburam’s two member cabinet. In fact, the newly elected Prime Minister, and his Maoist party, wanted the CA to be for six months. The current CA term was due till This is the third extension of the CA that was originally elected for two years in May 2008. It was extended for a year in 2010 and for another three months in May 28. The term was extended by amending the Interim Constitution by a two-thirds majority. 541 members of the CA were present for the voting. 537 voted for the amendment proposal, 4 against it.

Read about earlier extension which was more “entertaining!”: Constituent Assembly term extended for three months

Constituent Assembly term extended for three months

Members of constituent assembly sleeping inside the CA building
This is how the CA members spent the long night in the Constituent Assembly building...as the meeting got extended...by several hours in the night. click on the pic to enlarge it

By Phanindra Dahal

After hectic parleys late into Saturday night and wee hours of Sunday (today), the political parties struck a five-point deal, paving the way for a three-month extension of the Constituent Assembly.

According to the pact signed by top three leaders of the three major parties: 

1) the Constituent Assembly term will be extended by three months;
2) fundamentals of the peace process will be readied within three months;
3) the first draft of the new constitution will be prepared within three months;
4) the Prime Minister will quit to pave the way for formation of a national consensus government; and
5) the Nepal Army will be developed as an inclusive institution by implementing the past agreements signed with Madhesi Morcha.

However, it wasn’t clear when the Prime Minister’s resignation would come.

Earlier before the signing of the agreement, Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) kept harping on PM Khanal’s immediate resignation. Continue reading Constituent Assembly term extended for three months

Constituent Assembly: The Day the Deadline Expires

congress vs maoist. game of talks

As the clock ticks down to the expiry of Constituent Assembly (CA) term, the political parties have intensified internal and cross-party talks from early Saturday. The political parties are holding intense negotiations to forge an agreement for the extension of the CA term.

The Legislature-Parliament slated for 8 am in the morning convened at 11:12 at night.

Updates via eKantipur:

01:30 Sunday: A meeting between the major three parties and the SLMM begins.

00:52: The Legislature-Parliament session, which was supposed to resume at 00:00 am, has not been started yet.

11:49: The major three parties have finally clinched the agreement to extend the CA term.

11:45: The session of the Legislature-Parliament has been put off till 12:00 am.

11:43: Law Minister Prabhu Sah has tabled the government’s bill to amend the government’s bill to amend the Interim Constitution.

RPP-N Parliamentary Party leader Chandra Bahadur Gurung has delivered his speech regarding the party’s protest proposal against the bill registered by the governmet to extend the CA term. The proposal has been disapproved by majority. Continue reading Constituent Assembly: The Day the Deadline Expires

The last day of Constituent Assembly […if not extended]

As seen outside the Constituent Assembly complex in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu today. The CA’s term will expire today (midnight) if it is not extended. There are have been signs that it could be extended for a few months. (five pics)

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Monkey act?: Four ‘restive’ legs and several ‘resting’ leaves

Continue reading The last day of Constituent Assembly […if not extended]

Constituent Assembly Has Made Substantial Progress in Constitution Writing

Despite all the chaos and apparent differences of positions/opinions/ideologies of political parties, they have made significant progress in drafting a new constitution. If one looks at the debates that have occurred in the CA over the past year and a half, it is clear that although differences between parties have persisted, there have also been major attempts to discuss issues and attempts to find adequate methods to address them.

There is a tendency in Nepali society that views the proceedings in the Constituent Assembly (CA) with great negativity and foreboding. The differences between the parties on important issues regarding the constitution go so deep, this line of analysis goes, that finding compromise is impossible. Those who believe this never expected the CA process to move as far as it has: to the stage where all 11 thematic committees have submitted their concept papers, they have been discussed and the next task is for the Constitutional Committee (CC) to write a complete draft of the constitution in the next month. Even now, the nay-sayers continue to disparage the process, emphasising the incomplete nature of the concept papers and the major differences between parties that yet remain to be resolved.

This reading is based on the premise that there is broadly one main fault line in the CA: between the Maoists and the ethnic/regional parties on the one side and the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML on the other. This chasm between the two sides is so deep, it is thought, that bridging it is impossible. This is, however, a misreading of the situation. If one looks at the debates that have occurred in the CA over the past year and a half, it is clear that although differences between parties have persisted, there have also been major attempts to discuss issues and attempts to find adequate methods to address them. In many of these cases, in fact, there is agreement on the nature of the problems of Nepali state and society. The differences between parties are only regarding how to resolve them. Continue reading Constituent Assembly Has Made Substantial Progress in Constitution Writing

The Nepali Constitutional Dilemma

With the lapse of time, whether the history of ruling monarch will repeat in changed form? This fear hangs over the mind of common people, as the present Constitutional developments are not so encouraging.

suryabahadur singhBy Suryabahadur Singh

The constitutional evolutionary phases were continuously witnessed throughout the development process in Nepal.   The post second Jan-andolan,2062 (2005) period has provided ample opportunities for stabilizing and institutionalizing the institutional democracy, peace and constitutional reforms.  The formation of Constituent Assembly has raised the common man’s hope of period getting a constitutional solution forever.  The Nepalese masses have not forgotten that, the Constituent assembly was a mere declaration by the King Mahendra in 2007(1950) and the successive constitutions were formed by the related Constitution drafting committees.  At that time, the constitutional experts were hand picked, the rigidity, abstract law, limited constitutional resources, least judicial developments and impact of ruling monarch were major hurdles in the way of making appropriate Nepali constitution.   Along with this,  soaring socio-economic problems has obstructed a lot for experimenting with past six constitutions having colors, flavor and  impact of  then existing time. Continue reading The Nepali Constitutional Dilemma

Nepali Constitution: In search of Excellence

By Prof. Suryabahadur Singh*

The experimentation of various types of Constitutions was carried out in Nepal. The country had to experience six more Constitutions until elections to Constituent Assembly, 2065 (2008) were held. It had been observed that, these procedural delay jeopardized the growth of democratic system to a greater extent and derail overall national development in the absence of stable constitution of Nepal.

First Constituent Assembly of Nepal

The King Mahendra, while promulgating ‘the Interim Government of Nepal Act, 2007 (1951), had emphasized upon, framing the Constitution by duly elected Constituent Assembly. During this stage, the King had desired to have Constitution drafted through a duly elected Constituent Assembly. At that time, the formation of first Constitutional Assembly was dithered due to political turmoil, lack of time, urgent need for constitution and unstable administration. This lags the constitutional development of Nepal in search of suitable constitutional model.

Continue reading Nepali Constitution: In search of Excellence

News from CA: The Meeting Resumes

The legislative session of the Constituent Assembly (CA) resumed today at the International Convention Centre in New Baneshwor, Kathmandu, after being interrupted for 12 days following obstructions caused by Madhes-based regional parties demanding constitutional guarantee of an “autonomous Madhes state” and “mass Nepal Army recruitment of Madhesi people”. The CA meeting began its regular business after the disgruntled Madhes-based parties decided to let the CA proceedings move on although they expressed reservations over the newly prepared fifth amendment bill to the interim constitution. Continue reading News from CA: The Meeting Resumes