Constitution implementation moves ahead with all parties joining pollsThe Madhes-based parties were hitting the streets putting forth various concerns related to the constitution being promulgated.
The Madhes-based parties were hitting the streets putting forth various concerns related to the constitution being promulgated. Around three dozen people including security officials had lost their lives when the Constitution of Nepal was adopted on September 20. While there were colourful celebrations and people came out on the streets in different parts of the country to mark the historic day, a large section of the people observed blackout calling it a black day.
The protest by the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, continued, ultimately claiming 55 lives, most of them protesters. The entire country suffered as the dissenting parties backed by India imposed a blockade for around five months. Though the Legislature-Parliament on January 23 last year amended three Articles of the constitution, aiming to address some of the concerns of the regional parties, their protest did not stop as the revision to the provincial boundaries was not included in the amendment.
The agitating parties largely boycotted the parliamentary proceedings and continued to disown the statute. The first anniversary of the promulgation of the constitution was marked as a black day by the dissident groups.
The situation, however, has changed now. Despite boycotting the first and second phases of the local level elections held on May 14 and June 28, all the agitating parties took part in the third-phase polls in the Madhesi-dominated Province 2. The regional parties, which were adamant on not participating in the polls without constitutional amendments, agreed to join the elections, even those for the Federal Parliament and provincial assemblies, after the government put the constitution amendment bill to a vote without securing a two-thirds majority in favour of the bill.
Many view this as a clear portrayal that the Madhesi parties have accepted the constitution. Their decision to take part in provincial assemblies without the state boundaries being redrawn is their “acceptance” of the charter.
“All the parties taking part in the election is a significant step towards implementation of the constitution,” said Subas Nembang, the chairman of the dissolved Constituent Assembly. He said that the major challenge for its implementation was a successful holding of the elections to provincial assemblies and the central parliament. Nembang said that the parties which stood together while promulgating the constitution should join hands at least for successful conduction of the two polls. The statute makes holding all the three tiers of elections mandatory before January 21, 2018. The government has already announced its plan to hold the remaining two elections in two phases on November 26 and December 7.
Laxman Lal Karna, a senior leader of the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, said they have used the election as a means to build pressure on the establishment to address their concerns. “Participating in the elections does not mean that we have given up our demands. Our struggle will continue unless our concerns are addressed, though its form has changed,” he told the Post.
Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari, however, claims that the argument of the agitating parties that the constitution is not inclusive is just a political stunt. He claims that ultimately all the parties have accepted the path of democratic process, which is the major foundation for constitution implementation. How well the three tiers of government function, Adhikari argues, will determine how effectively the constitution is implemented. Formulation of the necessary laws is also a challenge in full-fledged implementation of the statute. Out of the 120 new Acts and over 180 amendments required to the existing laws, not even a half of them have been readied so far.
“Statute amendment has become non-issue for now. There is no looking back from implementing the charter for this point. However, challenges persist,” he argued.