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Nepal: Amendment to Constitution Delayed: Why?

Paper No 6586                    Dated 29-May-2020
By Dr.  S.Chandrasekharan.
In dealing with the border crisis with India on the Kalapani area and the inauguration of the link road to Lipulekh, one analyst described it as a “full display of his (Oli’s) characteristic and outrageous bluster.”  Again quoting the analyst, Oli did try his best to cash in on an anti Indian posturing that is highly popular among the jingoists in Nepal.
 
The issue related to altering the map of Nepal in the coat of arms shown in Schedule 3  that is related to Clause (2) OF Article 9 of the Constitution.  This could have waited as Nepal has already published a cabinet approved new map of Nepal covering all the disputed territories. If it is to be followed, then the Bank Notes, Coins, postage stamps and even the text books will have to be replaced!  But Oli was in a hurry.
 
The map approved by the Cabinet on 19th of May was officially released on 20th  May.  On May 22nd the proposal for amendment was registered in the Parliament and was due to be discussed from 27th of May.
 
All of a sudden, Oli, who neither cares for the opposition nor his colleagues suddenly realised that the issue being a serious one, an all party consensus on the amendment would be necessary.  He therefore convened an all party meeting on the 26th and for some inexplicable reason, the proposal to update the country’s map on the national emblem was removed from the agenda of parliamentary proceedings for 27th.
 
There were three reasons for this change of mind.  First- was that Oli would need two thirds majority in both houses to pass the amendment.  While his Ruling party had the required two thirds in the National Assembly, it did not have the required number in the Lower Assembly ( House of Representatives). One may recall the desperate attempt of Oli of unilaterally pushing for two ordinances one of which was to split the Samajwadi party to ensure a clear majority for his own survival.
 
Second- was that the two Madhesi Parities, the third and fourth largest parties in the assembly, while agreeing to go along with the ruling party on the map demanded for  inclusion in the present proposal the constitutional amendments for just and equitable  representation for the Madhesis as promised by Oli   The two parties sought the help of the  Nepali Congress too.
 
Third, the Nepali Congress sought some time to consider the issue first in their Working Committee that was to convene soon.  The Nepali Congress Leader Sher Bahadur Deuba asked the Government to accommodate the views of all parties including those of Samajwadi and the RJP.  His view was that “no one should be left out”
 
 Oli had to relent and had to call for an all party meeting on the 26th.  The move was quickly hailed by Indian Analysts as on one of “de-escalation “ by Oli which is not true. This appears to be a national habit to declare a victory too soon!
 
The Madhesi groups who are aware that Oli would never agree to the  just representation of the Madhesis in the Constitution found this a good opportunity to press their demands. Poor Upendra Yadav who headed the Samajwadi party was waiting too long in the chair of the Deputy Prime Minister only to be disappointed and realised toolate that Oli may never relent! 
 
I recall a posting made by one of the Madhesi leaders in the Face book that said - If being a Nationalist require you to preach hate, If it requires to become indifferent towards the agony of the people suffering in your own country, if you do not value the diversity of values we cherish so much, then we reject the “mono ethnic hate mongering nationalism.  It adds that if you cannot love your own people you cannot love your country.”
 
While the Government is still busy with the border issue, there appears to be no sense of urgency in dealing with the return of the migrants.  Over 5 lakhs of migrants are expected to be  returning home from India.  In the Karnali border thousands are stranded at the border with no food or water and no place to sleep.
 
Finally, the Indian response so far to the whole issue has been measured, moderate and correct except for the odd statement of the Army Chief in India alleging the hand of an external entity in the whole affair.  It is said that the Nepal Army Chief was asked to issue a rejoinder to that allegation, which thankfully the Nepali General declined.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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