NEPAL’S NEW CONSTITUTION AND INDIAN BULLYING

30 September 2015
AFTER seven tumultuous years following the overthrow of the more than two century old monarchy which led to elections to elect a Constituent Assembly and many governments failing to fulfil the task of finalizing a Constitution, at last on 20th September the president of Nepal has promulgated the new Constitution. The Constitution is divided into 8 parts and 305 articles and is the 7th to be adopted in 67 years. The preamble envisages establishment of sustainable peace, good governance, development and prosperity in a federal democratic republic. However, under Article 274, nothing except the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Nepal — with the Nepalese people as the source of that independence — is unalterable or un-amendable.

The new Constitution, according to which Nepal is an ‘independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular, inclusive, democratic, socialism-oriented, federal, republican state’, was adopted amidst support from vast majority in the Constituent Assembly and the people. At the same time the Constitution has been opposed by the religious fundamentalists who want to make Nepal a Hindu state and by the Madhesi and Tharu sections in the Terai region bordering India, who have demanded more

rights and representation in the Constitution. The Madhesis, along with the Tharus, form the bulk of the population of Terai. The Terai region constitutes one-fifth of Nepal’s landmass, but accounts for over half of the nation’s population. The Madhesis have been fighting for equal representation in the country’s political structure and the new Constitution, according to them, has failed to meet their aspirations. Nepal’s new constitution promises to identify seven provinces of the country for administrative purposes – an exercise which it says will be completed in a year – in a secular, federal system.

The latest development at the time of this magazine going to press is that on September 24 the Nepal Government has agreed to hold decisive talks with parties agitating over the new Constitution and withdraw army from the violence-affected Terai region bordering India, one of the major pre-conditions for talks set by the protesting groups.The decision was taken after three major political parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) — held a meeting at Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s official residence at Baluwatar.In the meeting, attended by Koirala, CPN-UML chairman K P Oli and UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda, it was decided to recall soldiers on condition that the Madhesi groups would stage peaceful protests.

Nepal is a small country of 29 million people sandwiched between its two bigger neighbours, China and India. While China has warmly welcomed the Constitution, India has expressed unhappiness that it does not fulfill the aspirations of the Terai people. This has further embittered the relation between the two which is already not satisfactory due to the big-brotherly attitude of the consecutive Indian governments which the Nepalese people see as an expansionist attitude. When the consecutive governments in India were/are not ready to accept the question of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed one in spite of the people’s struggles there, and to allow the Pak delegates to interact with those forces there who want right of self-determination, it continues to blatantly interfere in all internal affairs of Nepal including interacting with the representatives of Madhesh and Tharu people. This happened during the process of Constitution making also which has further embittered relations between the two countries. It is the sovereign right of the people of Nepal to elect their representatives, to decide what ruling system they should have, to frame the Constitution and wage struggles for making any changes in it. The Indian government has violated this principle of peaceful co-existence between neighbouring countries.

According to reports, New Delhi has gone so far as to identify seven amendments Kathmandu ‘should’ make to its Constitution, and has conveyed these through official channels. Nepal, expectedly and fittingly, has quite ignored these ‘suggestions’, with the deputy to the Nepali ambassador in India Krishna Prasad Dhakal, retorting, “Nepal’s Constitution is better than the Indian Constitution since it takes care of minorities as well as women.” Former Nepali prime minister and senior leader of ruling CPN-UML Madhav Kumar Nepal also has rightly slammed India for “immature and irresponsible” reaction after the promulgation of the new Constitution on September 20, saying that no country should try to make Nepal its puppet and urging neighbours not to meddle in the domestic affairs of the country and hurt the dignity of the people.

The CPI(ML) Red Star, while extending full support to the revolutionary forces in Nepal in their continuing struggles for people’s democracy, opposes and condemns the interference of the Indian government in the internal affairs of Nepal. It is the right of the Nepalese people including the people of the Terai region to struggle for any changes in the Constitution promulgated on 20th September. We extend revolutionary greetings to the people of Nepal in this important phase of their struggle
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