By Narayan Prasad Ghimire, KATHMANDU:- Nepal is celebrating the Constitution Day today, Asoj 3 of Nepali calendar. Various programmes are being organized across the country to observe the Day. Six years have passed since the promulgation of new constitution from the Constituent Assembly on September 20, 2015.
In Nepal’s history, the current constitution is the seventh written national charter. Federalism, republic, proportional representation, inclusion, social justice, full press freedom and socialism are some of the salient features of the existing constitution. Most importantly, the constitution formally institutionalized the new system- federalism- and abolished the 200 plus year long monarchy in the country. It paved way for the common people to became Head of the State. We’ve now President as Head of the State. The provision of numerous fundamental rights is another significant achievement.
Moreover, the constitution, though promulgated after the nine years of the beginning of the peace process, has formally brought then rebellion forces to peaceful politics by ending the decade long insurgency. The insurgency also named ‘people’s war’ had not only destabilized the country but also derailed democracy and delayed development since 1996 to 2006. It is another reason to celebrate the Constitution Day that put an end to the armed revolution. The role the political parties played in this regard must be lauded. The three-tier of governments in place is a historic achievement and implementation of the constitution.
Messages of Best Wishes
President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba are receiving the congratulatory messages from their foreign counterparts on the occasion of the Constitution Day.
Similarly, the media have covered the messages of best wishes by the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker, chairpersons of major political parties, highlighting the significance of the constitution.
In a message of best wishes given on the occasion of Constitution Day, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba reminds, “The Constitution of Nepal promulgated via the Constituent Assembly under the leadership of Nepali Congress is a significant achievement of long democratic movements full of struggles.” Similarly, the former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has reminded the introduction of laws in the recent past years to implement the fundamental rightsenshrined in the present progressive constitution.
Moreover, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun has remembered the role of people’s war in the background to bring such constitution.
Effective implementation imperative
The Constitution Day is also the National Day. It is indeed a matter of joy for the Nepalis to have such progressive constitution. However, the implementation aspect is most important to ensure the change people have aspired with this new constitution. People have mounting hope on the national actors that they truly implement spirit and words of constitution so that the country witnesses meaningful change, development, and prosperity, which is a long-cherished dream. The struggles waged for democracy even before 2007 BS had aspired the constitution via Constituent Assembly. But this long held dream was fulfilled only before six years. So, it’s wise practice is a common responsibility, especially of the political parties as they are forefront actors in the national affairs.
With the fulfillment of the dream to get a progressive constitution, the most important actors of national affairs, the political parties, should pay special attention to effectively the implement the constitution. For it to happen, improved political behaviour and culture is stressed. As per the change in system, have the political parties changed their mindset and corrected their behaviour? Similarly, how constitutionally and democratically our politicalparties have handled the national politics and delivered the service to the people in a convenient manner?
In this connection, reporter with the National News Agency (RSS) from Palpa district, Sushila Regmi, quotes an octogenarian Buddhiraj Bhattarai, as saying, “The struggles Nepalis waged against Rana regime and the Panchayat system and for the present democratic system was for freedom and country’s development. Political parties led the struggles over times to bring the country to the present democracy republic.”
The democracy fighter regretted, “But, that struggle and sacrifice of Nepali people was for the party leaders to grab power and full; their individual aspiration.” Bhattarai is a democracy fighter.
Similarly, RSS’ another reporter from Baglung district quotes the former Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha as saying, “Provided that there is no practical relevance, the contents in the constitution creates illusion.” The former Chief Justice strongly advocates that ‘constitution’s beauty lies in its implementation not in its words.’
These two references well reflect the power-hungry nature of political parties on the one hand and growing importance of the implementation of constitution on the other. The former Chief Justice underscores the true implementation of the constitution to realize its meaning. Beauty on constitution lies in its practice, he argued. Similarly, the octogenarian gave credit to political parties for the movements but accusing them of chasing after ‘chairs’ and selfish interest.
Analyzing the recent past years gives a bleak picture in terms of political parties clashing each other which took hostage the parliament. The parliament is the supreme body of people’s representatives where the deliberations are held on citizens’ rights to country’s development and laws made accordingly. But, the dissolution of the House of Representatives for twice and its frequent prorogations and obstructions are regarded by many as taking back-gear on constitution implementation. Similarly, despite the efforts made for the unity among the communist political parties, the deepening rift and subsequent split has impacted the parliament business and government functioning.
In a question relating to political parties’ behaviour in the implementation of constitution, constitutional expert Dr Bipin Adhikari observed, “The initial three years of the constitution were positive, but the recent years are worrying.” According to him, it is important achievement and implementation to have new laws to enforce the fundamental rights.
“It is depressing trend in Nepal for long that when the country gets a strong government with weak opposition, the big party is enfeebled and government collapsed, whichhas direct bearing on national affairs,” he said, urging the political parties to maintain internal democracy, financial transparency, and inclusion. “If political parties fail to adhere to rule of law and the government irrespective of any political party wants to run country with ordinance, it is flawed practice. So, serious correction in political behaviour is imperative,” he underscored.
Similarly, political scientist and advocate Sanjeeb Ghimire viewed, “Although we made good provisions in the constitution, the political behaviour to translate these into practice are slow off the mark.” He blames the same centralized practice of political parties in federalism. Even the parties’ structures are centre-focused. “If the law and policy making in province and local levels are in the same template and under the influence of federal government, it is just cosmetic implementation of constitution and federalism.
Ghimire also stressed the democratization and transformation of political parties as per federal notion, otherwise implementation of constitution is slack.
Are our political parties ready to evaluate their roles as the common people want and experts suggest? It is high time they mulled it. RSS
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