The Current CA cannot produce an inclusive Constitution :Pampha Bhusal
Director of Nepal Desk of The Oslo Times International News Network and Human Rights Activist, Prabalta Rijal taking an interview with NPC-Maoist Spokes Person Pampha Bhusal, in Kathmandu on Friday.
Former Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare and Spokes person for the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist, Pampha Bhusal, has been working to uplift backward societies and women in Nepal for over 30 years now. She is not only a Political leader but also Women’s Right activist who has spent her entire life trying to bring about positive change in the lives of Nepali Women. In a short and exclusive rendezvous with The Oslo Times, Ms. Bhusal, spoke about the Maoist Revolution in Nepal, the peace process, root causes that are leading to a delay in Constitution writing, women’s right issues prevalent in the country and a whole lot more. The excerpts that follow are a brief and edited version of the interesting talk that followed.
1- We all know that the Maoist Revolution in Nepal took place in order to establish a Democratic Federal Republic. What do you think went wrong, why was there mass protest against the concept of creating federal states in term of ethnicity?
For hundreds of years, Nepal had been ruled by Monarchs, who were against democracy and instilling the rights of the people. This oppressive government in Nepal was a centralized dictatorial and oppressive government which did not allow people to exercise their rights, they even opposed on educating the masses. Class, caste and gender based discrimination was prevalent at all levels of society, people did not even have the right to practice their own faith until much later in history. Nepal for years was known as a Hindu Kingdom, the identities of the minorities was ignored and their plight went unheard.
Even today, apart from this elite class, almost all parts of the country still live in sheer poverty. The solution to all these problems is creating a democratic people’s republic where power is handed over to the people and it is used to uplift the people and the society they live in.
It was with these values that we entered the peace process, because we felt the need to establish a nation in accordance to the values of democracy. However, there are reactionary forces in Nepal which are against democracy, as it will snatch the strings of control away from them and their foreign masters, who in turn they will remain powerless against the will of the people.
2- Though a decentralized system of governance does have its benefit do you think it was really required to divide states in accordance to ethnicity?
Dividing states in terms of ethnicity would not have created ethnic violence, because just living in different state doesn’t change your ethnicity and the fact that you are a Nepali citizen. Our main purpose for putting this idea forward was to give ethnic communities, who for centuries have lost their sense of belonging, a sense of ownership towards the country. People in the Terai regions before the 2006 peoples revolt, were treated unfairly, and many of them were forcefully being called Indians and were mistreated in their own country. Giving people the ownership of what is theirs does not create problems, not giving people their rights is what causes the problems.
Through the new constitution we wanted every citizen to feel like this nation belonged to them and the first constitution was at the verge of completion, but the Constituent Assembly got dissolved despite of this. If things had gone as planned we would already have an all inclusive, democratic constitution which ensured the rights of every citizen.
3- You were always against the second CA elections. Do you think we will have a new constitution soon? And, will it be inclusive in your views?
After the first Constituent Assembly Poll, there was a possibility of forming a constitution that was all inclusive, because the government was made up of parties who believed and who had fought for the cause. After the duration of the first Constituency Assembly ended, it was not necessary to completely dissolve everything that had already been achieved. Dissolving the CA was an intentional, unconstitutional and apolitical act.
Letting a supreme court judge head the country and the election process was really uncalled for. The second election was a drama, to maintain power-play by foreign powers, because this act was democratic, social and against political values
If we observe the duration even after the formation of the second CA, we find that they haven’t done much work to finish writing the constitution. And even if they do come up with one, it will not be inclusive, because these are Maoist agendas, agendas we believe in but our representation in the Assembly is not strong. Traditional parties who have always compromised with the monarchs are back into power so they obviously cannot write a peoples centric and inclusive constitution, that much we are certain of
4- In your previous interviews you have mentioned a ‘ protracted peoples revolt’, what do you mean by it and don’t you think that the Nepali people are fed up of violence?
If the rights of the people forfeited and their freedom is taken away from them, the revolt is obvious. This is what we mean by a ‘protracted peoples revolt’, and it is very natural.
5- You have always hinted that there is a lot of foreign interference on issues of national sovereignty, can you tell us a little about what kind of interference Nepal is facing from other countries?
Nepal’s 1816 treaty with the East India Company and the 1950 treaty with India, made Nepal a semi colonial country and because of these treaties, there’s is always some kind of interference in our internal matters. Since that time, there has always been foreign intervention even in micro-levels of management, like who to appoint in which ministry as secretary and which party should form the government and which party should step down from power.
After the dissolving the first Constituent Assembly the condition has deteriorated from a semi-colonial to a to Neo-Colonial state. Nepal should be liberated from this situation. If the country does not break free from this condition the people of Nepal will not enjoy their full rights.
Our national boundaries are being encroached, the country is being squeezed into a smaller nation day by day, trade deficit is growing in disproportionate manner and our natural resources are being snatched at minimal prices.
6- What are your views on what the-Indian PM Narendra Modi said during his visit to Nepal, in regards to strengthening Indo-Nepal ties? Do you think India will live up to its promises?
First of all unequal treaties should be scraped, encroached land should be returned and all the hydro related unequal treaties should be revised to ensure equal benefits for both countries.
Along with this there should be no interference in our internal agendas at all levels of management. We should stand in a platform of equal footing, then only can we make new treaties as a sovereign nation.
Just by saying something does not make it possible, till date the foundation of inequality have not been demolished. We do want to establish equal and long lasting relationships with our neighbors .
7- During your tenure as the Minister for Women, Children and Social welfare, what did you think were and are the problems faced by women in Nepal in regards to equal rights? And do you think these issues will be addressed by the new constitution?
Like I mentioned earlier Nepal’s society is dominated feudal patriarchal beliefs, so we do have social, political and cultural problems that are affecting women, children and old people. Women are treated like second grade citizens. Securing the rights of women in Nepal cannot be done through minor changes. We need a total societal transformation, for women to be represented in all sectors of governance. And, only through this can we address the issue of gender inequality in Nepal.
Similarly, Children in Nepal are also living in dire straits as Nepal has been cited as the worst place for children to grow up in, so immediate attention is required to create a better nation for them. The new constitution should include the rights of women in all sectors of the state and measures should be taken to implement these.
8- According to a Report by different media agencies in Nepal, the reported number of Violence Against Women (VAW) cases between Mid March to Mid April 2014, was 411 out of which 258 were cases of domestic violence and 49 were reported cases of rape, during a one month period. Why do you think violence against women is so prevalent in Nepalese society?
Along with Feudal Partiarchal values that are dominant in Nepal, the imitation and the adulteration of foreign values and culture is also responsible in increasing domestic violence and rape against women.
A certain type of aspiration was formed by the peoples uprising against VAW that has been countered and toppled over by the changes in the government, which has allowed perpetrators to run wild because they are hardly ever brought to justice.
Just the other day a seven-year-old child was gang raped and killed in the outskirts of the Kathmandu valley, this in itself is a challenge that we need to counter.
9- What are the prospects for reunification with the UCPN (Maoist)?
If our work direction, political line and ideologies along with our work ethics and style matches than we may re-unite. As it is very necessary for progressive parties to unite, in order to bring about positive change in the country. Since the outcome of the peoples war and peoples uprising has to be established meaningfully, all democratic forces should unite for the cause.
10- So what does the NCP-Maoist’s roadmap look like?
The CA is not in the hands of parties that favor progressive changes. At present, 32 important political parties including NCP-Maoist are out of the CA assembly. So there should be a national level understanding between all parties to form a consensus government. From there we should come into agreement on writing a constitution that ensures the rights of the people and establishes a nation built on federal and democratic values. This what we are working on achieving.
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