NC leaders for ‘religious freedom’, state bordersCentral Working Committee (CWC) members and lawmakers of the Nepali Congress on Saturday urged the party to stand in favour of “religious freedom” and demarcation
At a joint meeting of the CWC and the Parliamentary Party, leaders said the term “secularism” would be replaced by “religious freedom” respecting people’s
suggestions. They said there might be some delay but a constitution with the delineation of provinces would be lasting.
CWC members and lawmakers also asked the party leadership to press other parties to mention “pluralism” in the preamble of the constitution. Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel, who has been assigned to lead negotiations with other parties, said an unclear NC position had created problems while dealing with the CPN-UML and the UCPN (Maoist) on constitutional agendas.
Poudel told the meeting that the UML’s “shaky” position on religion had created problems. He said UML Chairman KP Oli was not consistent in his stance on religious freedom. Poudel added that there was no substantial agreement on the disputed issues.
The decision of the joint meeting stated that top leaders are entrusted the task to revise the constitution draft on the basis of the party’s position and the people’s views received during the feedback collection process.
Party General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who chairs the Constitution Drafting Committee, said there would be no change on the parliamentary system although the people suggested adopting a directly elected executive head.
Ram Sharan Mahat, who is also the finance minister, said the constitution draft was Left-oriented and more democratic values should be incorporated in it. He spoke against the idea of having many constitutional bodies.
“We should not incorporate those fundamental rights which the government cannot guarantee,” Mahat said, adding that the issues that may be dealt with by law should not be incorporated in the constitution.
Leader Bimalendra Nidhi said senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is on an India visit, has suggested that the constitution should remain silent on the matter of religion. Nidhi reiterated his position that the constitution should be promulgated only after the demarcation of states.
Youth leader Gagan Thapa proposed directly elected chief executive and a constitution with state delineation. According to lawmaker Ram Hari Khatiwada, leaders were more concerned about religion, pluralism and directly elected lower House.
The party decided to reschedule the dates of its village, constituency and district conventions stating that the party would remain busy in the constitution drafting process.
Earlier, the party had decided to complete those conventions within mid-August. The joint meeting on Saturday decided to reschedule the events. A proposal submitted by General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula in the regard was endorsed unanimously.
As per the decision, the conventions of wards, VDCs and municipalities will take place on September 3, while those at electoral constituencies will be held on September 7. District level meets will take place on September 11. The date of the general convention that begins on September 19 remains unchanged.
Action sought against Singh
Party President Koirala on Saturday proposed taking action against lawmaker Amresh Kumar Singh for his statements against the official NC line. At a joint meeting, Koirala objected to Singh’s recent statement that the Madhesi people would demand a separate country if the new constitution did not guarantee autonomous provinces in the Tarai. The party, however, has not decided any action against Singh. According to a source, the party’s disciplinary department will ask him to furnish a clarification. Central members and lawmakers speaking in the meeting had urged Koirala to take action against Singh. (PR)