Draft constitution’s provisions related to federalism, citizenship, inclusion and election constituencies are the main concerns of Madhesis and Tharus of the Tarai region.

Ashok Yadav, Central Committee member of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal said over phone from Dang that the draft constitution did not contain provisions to mainstream marginalised communities such as Madhesis, Dalits, women and other minorities.

He said Madhesis wanted a complete constitution with autonomous states. “In federalism, people should be treated as source of power but it seems that in the draft constitution the central government will impose its power on people,” he added.

“Unless marginalised communities are mainstreamed, our nationalism will remain weak and chances of conflict will remain high,”he said. Yadav said the new constitution needed to ensure people’s proportional inclusion in state organs and fully proportional election system.

Yadav said the draft’s provisions on citizenship were discriminatory.  “Everybody knows that Madhesis have marital relations with Indians. Draft constitution proposes to bar naturalised citizens and citizens by birth from holding constitutional positions. This will affect Madhesis’ interaction with Indians and their cultural relations,” he said. He added that people wanted directly elected executive system in the new constitution. Tharuhat Tarai Party-Nepal Chair Bhanuram Chaudhari said his party was opposing the draft because it wanted to continue the status quo. “This draft is inferior to the Interim Constitution. We cannot accept it,” he said and added that the 16-point agreement was against the 12-point agreement, government’s agreements signed with various communities and the agreement reached in the first Constituent Assembly.

Chaudhari said the draft constitution’s proposal to have 60 per cent FPTP and 40 per cent PR representatives in the House of Representatives was against the provisions of the Interim Constitution. “The country held two elections under the Interim Constitution where FPTP and PR ratio was 40 and 60 per cent respectively and the same should be retained,” he argued.

Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Bardiya chapter chief Krishna Yadav said people were opposing the draft constitution for failing to demarcate the boundaries of the states. “The talk of resolving federalism later is just an empty promise. In the past the government signed agreements with various parties and now these big parties do not own up those agreements. How can we trust the signatories of 16-point agreement that they would deliver federalism later?” he said.

Sadbhawana Party Bardiya chapter chief Dhanesh Yadav said there was no reason for the major parties to postpone federalism. “If federalism is not ensured in the constitution, it will be against Article 138 of the Interim Constitution. How can we tolerate this in a democratic republican set up?” he wondered.

TMDC member Pashupati Dayal Mishra said over phone from Banke that if parties acted honestly, there was nothing that could hold them from solving the issues of five contentious districts.

“It is up to the four parties. If they do not issue the constitution acceptable to all stakeholders, there will be another uprising,” he said and added that if federalism was not ensured in the constitution, there was a danger of people switching their support to CK Raut.