CA: Question of representation

The historic popular movement reinstated the House of Representatives to attain the objective of constituent assembly (CA). Although the resolution for it has been unanimously adopted, the task of convening CA poses serious questions to which the seven-party alliance, Maoists and civil society have to give serious thought and arrive at a consensus.

The first and foremost question is about the qualification of the delegate to CA and the method to be employed to elect the delegate. The question of electorate does not pose any problem since adult suffrage has already been practiced in the nation several times, but the question of how to elect a delegate is a serious one. Since CA has to frame a constitution which would address the aspirations of all the people belonging to different castes, religions, sexes and ethnicities, care has to be taken that no segment of the society is left out of participation in the policy-making of the nation.

The Hindu caste system has perpetuated discrimination among the people. More than three million people have been denied basic human dignity.

The so-called upper caste people have declared them untouchables. This social ill has to be abolished and for that equitable participation of the Dalits has to be made secure.

Women too have been deprived of opportunities and rights, particularly in property right. Adequate participation of women has to be made secure as well. Nepal has more than 60

ethnic groups. Most of them are in danger of extinction. Unless adequate representation of the ethnic groups is made in CA, their problems cannot be addressed in a just manner.

In a multiparty democracy the role of the parties remains most important in devising fair and just policy that would take care of the aspirations of all the citizens.

However, the present composition of the hierarchy of the parties cannot be left unscrutinised. The fact remains that the political parties have been dominated by the upper caste Hindu elites.

Therefore, the formation of CA could not be left to them alone. For genuine participation of each segment of the population, the civil society has to play a prominent role. Organisations of women, Dalits and ethic groups have to be given a role in the formation of CA. Also, since all religious groups have a right to command respect and tolerance, the religious leaders too have a role to play.

So, CA has to have a representation of all groups of people according to their numbers so that no one is left out of the process of giving birth to a new Nepal with new dimensions. However, CA cannot be a crowd of large numbers. It has to have a limited number of delegates, but those who represent the population on equitable basis.

In order to form a consensus on the formation of CA, the need for a widely participated political conference becomes inevitable. Only a widely participated political conference, in which all ethnic groups, Dalits and women along with human right activists, religious leaders, lawyers and constitutional experts and of course the seven-party alliance and the Maoists have adequate participation, can evolve a national consensus on the formation of CA and also give directives for its task ahead.

Upadhyay is a former foreign minister