Tuesday, 20 October, 2020

‘Everyone Participated in Constiutional Process’


It took about 70 years for the Nepali people's desire of making their constitution through the Constituent Assembly to be fulfilled. Whenever the people became weak, the Constituent Assembly got pushed back. As the people grew stronger, so did the possibility of establishing such an assembly.
The Constituent Assembly, first declared in 1951, finally materialised in 2006. The people were so strong that when the first Constituent Assembly dissolved, a second Constituent Assembly was elected which took ownership of all the achievements of the first assembly and ultimately, succeeded in promulgating the constitution.
The constitution was signed by more than 90 per cent of the assembly members. However, a few of our friends remained dissatisfied. They did not even participate in the process; they boycotted it.

Amendment In Constitution
But the happy thing is, in less than three years, everyone participated in the constitutional process and a lot of work was done. We moved forward. Most recently, when the constitution was amended on the issue of our border, all the political parties in the parliament came together. The constitution amendment bill was passed unanimously, with the support of the very friends that had previously boycotted the constitution-drafting process. This means that everyone has accepted the constitution.
It took more than 10 years for all sides to accept the constitution in India. South India did not accept the constitution for 10 years. But, thanks to everyone’s efforts, we have reached this place in a short time. Some friends are still dissatisfied. Although this constitution is acceptable to all, there still are dissatisfactions.
We have to move forward by addressing all discontement and dissatisfaction. There is no other option. As we mark Constitution Day today, I urge all political parties to move forward in this direction.
At present, the citizens’ fundamental rights have been ensured. Laws have been made in accordance with the constitution. Many things have happened. The local, state and federal elections were held. Many other additional works have also been carried out, including works to implement the constitution to a large extent. People have been politically empowered. In fact, we no longer need movements to bring political change now. We have prepared the basis and conditions for bringing about any change by winning the people’s vote and amending the constitution. Thus, we have to move forward in this direction.
While many important things have been achieved with regards to the implementation of the constitution, an important task remains to be completed. There is still a little work remaining to bring the peace process to a complete conclusion.
We have set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons but the laws are yet to be amended in line with the avowed commitments. We are dedicated to completing this within the next two years. The draft of the amendment bill necessary for making the required laws is almost ready. If it is registered and passed in the next parliamentary session then this work will be concluded.
Now, the constitution, which was made by the Constituent Assembly and which has empowered the people, must be implemented in the real sense, in such a way that people would realise its complete implementation. Despite important activities being carried out, we still hear statements like, “We have not been able to feel the change.” Political parties and the state should pay attention to this.
We have truly put a good system in place. We have empowered the people. People can change a person or political party if they do not like them. We have a system of periodic elections. Based on our experiences, we have adopted an improved parliamentary system. Any kind of political change can be brought through constitutional amendments. Now, we should focus on moving forward in such a way that people can experience the change. On the occasion of this Constitution Day, it is necessary for all political parties and people of all castes, languages, religions and cultures from the Terai and Madhesh to the Himalayas to stand together and move towards this goal.
The state should respectfully and attentively listen to those who are dissatisfied with the constitution. It should discuss their concerns and endeavour to reach a conclusion based on necessity and justification.

Result Of Compromise
I have repeatedly stated that this constitution is a result of a compromise. This is a document of understanding. All of us, all the political parties have compromised, have reached an agreement to draft this constitution. No one has had all their demands fulfilled. Compromise is unavoidable. In this context, all the political parties should reach a conclusion in accordance with the constitution by holding discussions and dialogues with their issues at the centre.
There is a background, as I mentioned before. “We will make a constitution through the Constituent Assembly” was first declared in 1951. So, what is the difference now? Many constitutions have been made. Don’t we have a constitutional history? We do. We have had many constitutions. But the people were never the source of those constitutions, unlike this constitution where they are. We should understand and acknowledge this difference.
What’s more is that this is the product of 70 years of the public will and our collective effort. We reached our conclusion when people became strong. When they were weak, some achievements were made but they were also taken away. There were a lot of difficulties in forming the first Constituent Assembly as well. But finally, we succeeded. However, a constitution could not be made even after four years. And even though it achieved many things, the first assembly dissolved without giving a constitution.
But the people were so strong that elections were again held and a second Constituent Assembly was formed despite all adversities.

There were confusions even till the last day, till the last moment of the promulgation of the constitution. There were doubts about whether the constitution would be promulgated even after it passed. The doubts persisted even till the moment of promulgation on September 20, 2015. I remember very clearly that the promulgation took place 45 minutes later than the scheduled time. The Right Honourable President arrived 45 minutes late. He said he would come but his arrival was delayed by 45 minutes. Until the President entered the Constituent Assembly building, the question of whether the constitution would be promulgated or not remained among the people. We had brought out the constitution under such a situation.
The people were apprehensive considering the events of the past. Therefore, there were suspicions until the very last moment. But when the constitution was finally promulgated, the whole of Nepal stood united. The Constitution of Nepal, whose source of authority is the people, which was drafted by the people for the people – the whole country breathed a sigh of relief when it was promulgated.
It was especially a historic moment for me because I had had the opportunity to lead the constitution-drafting process and as the chair of the Constituent Assembly, I was able to stand up and say, “We have finally promulgated the constitution, now we will implement it.” We felt that we were able to play a historic role in fulfilling the seven-decade-long aspirations of the Nepali people.

(Translated by Aashish Mishra) 

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