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Proposed Second Amendment To The Constitution

Issue August 2017

Proposed Second Amendment To The Constitution

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The debate on the bill on amendment to the constitution has been going on in the parliament, and the government is going to put it to a vote on August 21, 2017 even though the establishment has not sufficient votes to get the two-thirds majority and passed it. It might be for exposing the opposition political parties where they do stand on the amendment, and what is their intention. The Constitution is a unifying document. So, it should be acceptable to all the citizens so that everybody would defend it and protect it. However, denying to the amendment, the opposition did not want it to be so, rather want to lead the country to a perpetual controversy causing political instability practically serving the repressive forces that try to raise their ugly heads whenever political instability prevails.


The three major political parties such as NC, CPN-UML, and CPN-Maoist-Center promulgated the Constitution in 2015 despite the opposition of the Madheshi political parties. So, the Constitution did not become a consensus document rather became the document of 90 percent people’s representatives. Immediately, some of the Madheshi leaders burnt down the document in protest.


The Madheshi leaders in turn launched the protest, and even blocked the southern border entry points for about six months causing tremendous sufferings to the common folks because of the short supply of the basic needs such as fuels, and foods.


During this period the then Prime Minister KP Oli slept through the crisis doing nothing to ease the blockade ostensibly the Madheshi leaders had imposed practically Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had surely in support of the Madheshi leaders imposed. Even though the lives had been miserable and economic development and business activities came to standstill, common folks managed to withstand the severe sanctions, and forced Modi to give in to open up the border entry points for the smooth supply of fuels, foods and other supplies.


After Indian Prime Minister Modi turned his back on the Madheshi leaders, Madheshi leaders went to the former chief minister of the neighboring Indian State Bihar, and asked him for the support to keep the protest going on in Nepal. However, shrewd political as he was Laloo Prasad Yadav rather exposed the Nepalese Madheshi leaders on camera and did nothing for them to continue the protest movement in Nepal. Since then the Madheshi leaders have been talking about the amendment to the constitution rather than doing anything concrete.


Then, the six Madheshi political parties became one Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-Nepal). One Madheshi party merged with the ethnic partiy and became the Federal Social Forum-Nepal that has participated in the first two phases of elections to the local units, and would participate in the third phase, too. Another Madheshi party of Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar is currently in the government, Gacchedar holding the position of Deputy Prime Minister.


Chairman of Maoist-Center Prachanda and President of NC Sher Bahadur Deuba pulled down the government of KP Oli, and Prachanda became the prime minister on condition that Deuba would be the prime minister in rotation. After ten months, Prime Minister Prachanda resigned in favor of Sher Bahadur Deuba. Prachanda proposed Deuba as a prime minister making the history of outgoing prime minister proposing for an incoming prime minister. This has been the first smooth transfer of power from one man to another.


Prime Minister Prachanda gave an assurance to the Madheshi leaders of amending the constitution to meet their demands and make the constitution acceptable to all the political leaders. Prachanda went on talking about the amendment and tried to persuade the opposition to agree on the amendment. He introduced the amendment bill in the parliament. He successfully announced the elections to the local units. The coalition of NC and Maoist-Center held the first and second phases of the elections and the third phase is going to be held on September 18, 2017.


The Madheshi leaders did not participate in the first two phases of the elections sticking to their demand for the amendment to the constitution before joining the mainstream politics. Now, their demand has been for putting the “Bill On Amendment To Constitution” to a vote, no matter what the result would be for joining the mainstream politics and participating in the third phase election. So, Prime Minister Deuba initiated the process for passing the amendment bill in the parliament. The debate on the Bill is going on in the parliament and lawmakers would be voting for or against it on August 21, 2017.


The opposition CPN-UML leaders and their coalition partners have been arguing that the proposed amendment bill is a national disaster. How it could be disastrous they did not bother to explain. They did not even say what are the proposed amendments but CPN-UML leaders and their associates such as the leaders of minor political parties have been beating the drum against the amendment bill so hard practically drowning out the voices for the national necessity of making the constitution acceptable to all the citizens.


The Madheshi, ethnic, Muslim and dalit leaders have been arguing that how the national disaster would be when the amendments are only for giving the rights to all the languages spoken in Nepal, rights to the foreign women marrying the Nepalese nationals to be naturalized citizens after they processed for quitting their citizenship, and rights to make changes in the provincial boundaries.


Some Madheshi leaders have said that the Madheshi, ethnic, Muslim and dalit people would fight to the finish for their rights and they would write their own constitution if the amendment bill were not passed in the parliament. So, choice is of the opposition parties that have been labeling the amendment as a national disaster. The disaster might be if they were not to pass the amendment bill.


Some other pro-amendment leaders have said that the opposition not agreeing on the amendment to making the constitution acceptable to all the citizens and making the constitution a unifying document has been for perpetual political movement causing instability and practically assisting the repressive forces in trying to make a comeback. Is it not a national disaster? Is it not CPN-UML heading to be a repressive force?


The establishment needed 398 votes to have the two-thirds majority to pass the amendment bill in the parliament but judging from the mood of the political leaders the establishment would have a short of more than 20 votes to make the two-thirds majority required for passing the bill. However Prime Minister Deuba possessed special skills to bring the lawmakers to agree on to his proposal. So, Deuba might stage a miracle of having two-thirds majority to pass the amendment bill at the last moment.


Chairman of Rastriya Prajtantra Party (RPP) Kamal Thapa publicly declared that his party would not vote for the amendment bill. He would have voted for if he were the deputy prime minister. Previously, he had been always for the amendment bill. Deuba did not invite Thapa to join his government rather did not offer Thapa the office of deputy prime minister irritating Thapa.


Unfortunately, Thapa’s RRP has been split clearly indicating Thapa has not mastered the political party management. He blamed the establishment for the split of his party. He has lost some of his lawmakers to another RPP leader Pashupati Shumsher that has applied for registering his party as an RPP-Democratic at the Election Commission. If the local media were to believe then Thapa has only 15 lawmakers out of the total 37, as Pashupati Shumsher took away with him 22.


However, publishing a notice in the front page of “gorkhapatra” on August 7, 2017, the Election Commission has demanded to present all the lawmakers Pashupati Shumsher has listed for at the Election Commission with citizenship certificates to verify their signatures and eligibility. Pashupati Shumsher in turn appealed the Supreme Court for ordering the Election Commission register his new party, as he has provided all the documents as required by the law.


The constitution is a unifying document. Every citizen needs to defend it otherwise it will have the same fate that of its six predecessors. One of the Madheshi leaders has said that current constitution would face the same fate as of the constitution of 1991 that ended up becoming defunct without any amendment.


None of the citizens wants to make the current constitution a scrap but the opposition leaders particularly such as KP Oli, Chitra Bahadur KC, CP Mainali, Jhalanath khanal, Madhav Nepal and so on have been leading this constitution to be a trash not making it acceptable to all the political leaders and parties. Their names would be well recorded in the history of Nepal for making Nepal politically instable and for any future unfortunate events caused by not amending the constitution to make it an unifying document rather than the document of the 90 percent of the members of the then Constituent Assembly that voted for it.


CPN-UML leaders and Kamal Thapa have claimed that they have been nationalists, and they are for defending the nation at any cost. However, not voting for the constitution amendment bill they have been dreadfully leading the nation to a catastrophe. They either are ignorant of not being able to keep the nation intact without meeting the demands of at least 10 percent of the populace or they deliberately leading the nation to crisis hoping to revive the lost luster of the dictatorial system in which 10 percent of the populace repressively ruled over the 90 percent of the people.


Kamal Thapa has been openly advocating for the return of one language one nation and reinstating Hinduism as the national religion and if possible the return of the monarchy. KP Oli and his associates such as Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Nepal have been quietly supporting Thapa.


These political guys have no idea of in which century they are living. They think of 20th century, maybe even beyond, thinking to revive Prithvi Narayan Shah as a unifier of the country at least celebrating his auspicious birthday because they could not dare to unify the country or they did not have any capacity to do so.


The country has changed from the monarchy to republic, the system has been the multi-party democracy but these guys probably born during the feudal time have not changed their mindset of feudalism. May god bless them to be conscious of the political facts?


August 21, 2017


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