Nepal | July 14, 2020

Constitution draft regressive: Madhesi leaders

Himalayan News Service
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Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Chair Mahantha Thakur, Sadbhavana Party Chief Rajendra Mahato and Nepal Sadbhavana Party Chair Anil Kumar Jha on Thursday told Unified CPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal that the draft constitution was regressive and therefore unacceptable.

Thy told Dahal that Madhesis were protesting against the draft constitution for it was worse than the Interim Constitution in terms of  protection of rights of minorities.

Talking to THT, Mahato said he told him that the Interim Constitution was the bottomline for a compromise  and if the new constitution snatched away any right that the marginalised and Madhesis were given by the Interim Constitution, and if a constitution that did not mention federalism was promulgated, Madhesis would not accept it.

“Naturalised citizens and citizens by birth were never deprived from holding top government posts. How can Madhesis tolerate a draft constitution that proposes to deprive naturalised citizens and citizens by birth from holding top posts?” Mahato added.

He said he told Dahal that if he failed to protect the gains of the Interim Constitution, an achievement of various movements, the Nepali people would not give him any more chance to lead movements in the future.

Mahato also told Dahal that the draft constitution had failed to incorporate proportional representation of marginalised communities, which was guaranteed under the Interim Constitution.

Thakur said he exchanged views on some Madhesi issues but no serious talks happened between them.

According to Thakur, when Dahal sought his opinion on three Pradeshes in Madhes, he told the UCPN-M Chair that Madhesi forces were for one Pradesh, but since the erstwhile State Reconstruction Commission proposed two Pradeshes in Madhes, they were ready to discuss it.

Dahal wanted to know from Thakur how Madhesis would react if there was one Pradesh containing districts of Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari and Udaypur.

Thakur said the draft constitution did not accept the principle of representation by population for which Madhesis had started a movement in the past.

Dahal also briefed Thakur what he had discussed with Indian leaders recently.

Dahal told Thakur that he told Indian leaders the stakes were high for him to make his political line of joining the mainstream a success and whether he succeeded or failed, it would have a bearing on the ultra-left movements in the region.

NSP Chair Jha said he told Dahal to try his best to retain at least the Interim Constitution’s provisions on election constituencies in Madhes and citizenship.

“As far as the Upper House is concerned, Indian practice can be our model where even smaller states have the right to elect at least one member and the larger states elect representatives on the basis of their population,” Jha added.

Jha said he told Dahal that there were many flaws in the draft constitution, but its provisions relating to citizenship, federalism, and election constituencies were the main reasons why Madhesis were protesting against it.

According to Dahal’s Personal Secretary Chudamani Khadka, Dahal told President Ram Baran Yadav and the three Madhesi leaders on Thursday that people had expressed their views overwhelmingly on forms of governance, citizenship issues and demarcation of boundaries of federal states before promulgating the new constitution and he was making attempts to address those concerns by holding consultations with both the ruling and opposition parties.

A version of this article appears in print on July 24, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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