Constitution Day v/s Black Day (Editorial)

Editorial

There are certain days in a nation’s life which carry both symbolic and historical meaning. The Constitution Day is such an occasion which symbolises people’s quest for a life enriched by the value of justice, equality and dignity. In democracy, a constitution is the core document that defines the system of governance, process of election, separation of power, system of checks and balances and the protection of people’s rights. Without a constitution, the dream of people for the right to life, dignity, equality and prosperity remains unfulfilled. 

Nepali people’ s struggle for a system based on constitutional supremacy, reached qualitatively different level as a result of victory in the People’s Movement of 1990. It was a great historical watershed which brought an end to the autocratic monarchical system based on family succession. For the first time in history a parliamentary democracy with constitutional monarchy was established in the country. The people got a democratic constitution where the principle of people’s sovereignty was enshrined. However, there were some constitutional loopholes which were misused by the subsequent Shah kings when the country was in the midst of decade long insurgency. 

The people’s movement of 2006 was a political movement which galvanised all the democratic forces fighting for change and created a force strong enough to overthrow monarchy which was trying to entrench itself by reducing democratic values to naught. Finally, the cherished dream of the Nepali people to own a constitution was fulfilled through two consecutive constituent assemblies. When it was promulgated on September 20, 2015 with a two-thirds majority of the Constituent Assembly, both internal and external forces combined to subvert it. They questioned the competence of the sovereign parliament’s authority to promulgate accusing it of legitimising the exclusion of the Terai people. Creating a false premise for opposing the constitution, they did everything possible to turn it into a dead letter by undermining its implementation. 

But not everyone felt the same way, as many Madhesis, Tharus and indigenous groups marked September 20, Constitution Day, as a ‘black day’. NEFIN, the umbrella organisation of indigenous nationalities, has been leading protest programmes against the constitution ever since it was promulgated in 2015. Janajati leaders raised questions over the government’s failure to amend the constitution in the four years since its promulgation. 

Protest programmes were visible especially in Province 2, where the Madhes-based Rastriya Janata Party Nepal led a rally in Janakpur with black headbands and black flags as symbols of protest.

Now, the ship of the Nepali nation has reached the home stretch by successfully negotiating a rough stretch marked by stormy waves and hidden shoals. The credit for this goes to the able captainship of our prime minister KP Oli who has been leading the country to stability, rule of law and prosperous future. On this day, all the Nepali people should stand united and pledge not to allow anyone to tarnish the sanctity and sacredness of the constitution through the acts of betrayal and treachery.

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