Leaders stress need for secularism to uplift state

Political leaders today recognised secularism as effective means to uplift the indigenous, nationalities groups in the country.

“Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religion, multi-cultural society. How can there be social justice when the country is declared a Hindu state?” said Bharat Mohan Adhikari, standing committee member of the main opposition the CPN-UML, highlighting his party’s clear support for a secular state.

He also called to transform the National Assembly into House of Nationalities while partaking in an interaction: ‘Indigenous/Nationalities’ issues and the role of political parties’ organised by the Association of Nepalese Indigenous/Nationalities Journalists (ANIJ) here on Sunday.

“Along with Madhav Kumar Nepal and Nirmal Lama, we’d lobbied for a secular state however, the majority of the members differed,” Adhikari, a member of the Constitution drafting committee, added further.

The UML leader also expressed concern over some social groups nearing extinction. “We protect wildlife parks and conserve one-horned rhinoceros. But what about Dhimals who are now limited to three village development committees of Jhapa? They are the last of the kind in the whole world.”

Gore Bahadur Khapangi, general secretary, National People’s Liberation Front, saying history should be source of knowledge and wisdom added: “Why would one expect anything even now? They have never been kind, loyal and honest in history. That’s a historical fact and nobody can deny it.”

Khapangi further added, “Until proportional representation is taken up, and until so happens, the problems of the janajatis will persist.” He also said the indigenous groups have been "victims of unconscious" if not "stooge of political ideology".

When it involves 70 per cent of the population, how can it be a minority issue? “The point here is not the concern but whole sole liberation of the janajatis,” he said. “This is a problem of the state. This is not only problem involving language or religion but a political problem.”

Sitaram Tamang of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, exposing the faults in the recent census said, “According to the census eighty per cent of the people are Hindu and ten per cent of them are Buddhist. How fair is that as we know how many people follow Buddhism in the country.”

“Fighting for a secular state is a long and tardy process,” said Tamang. The figure the census projects is an indication of slow changes taking place. Though a slight improvement from the past, the data have come so in accordance to the state’s wishes.

Narayan Singh Pun, Nepali Congress MP, said, “Though there is faith and tolerance among the divergent groups all social groups have their own society.”

Saying superficial dealing as insufficient Pun emphasised the need to go deeper to analyse the state mechanism in overcoming the ills.

Ghanashyam Sharma of United People’s Front said, “There’s need to end differences among the janajatis, then their sentiments could be united.” No country should be led by a religion, and Nepal thus, should be declared a secular state, added he.

Himal Rai of the CPN-ML said, “Hinduisation has pushed the indigenous communities to the brink. Class struggle is essential to mainstream or to liberate the populace.”

Hari Acharya, a National People’s Front MP, said the indigenous groups were slowly displaced after the Hindus fleeing from the Muslim attacks in Sindhu in India entered the country.