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Editorial: In defense of the 2015 constitution

It’s time to stand up in favor of the 2015 constitution. Reversing the current course is not a solution to our current ills

Editorial: In defense of the 2015 constitution

Seven years after the first Constituent Assembly election, Nepal promulgated a new constitution in 2015, formally transitioning the nation into a republican federal state. This significant milestone could be achieved only by reaching a compromise among major political actors. The major political parties demonstrated considerable flexibility in their party positions to reach a consensus on contentious issues of the constitution. While all parties had reservations about the constitution, there was a sort of realization that a constitution dominated by a single party was untenable within the existing political landscape. Nevertheless, Madhes-based parties initially refrained from taking ownership of the constitution stating that their demands were not addressed. 

Later, after the first amendment in the constitution, Madhes-based parties too, in a way, took the ownership by participating in elections under the new constitutional framework and also joined the government. Despite some shortcomings, the international community has commended Nepal's constitution, hailing it as one of the most progressive in South Asia. Notably, in terms of securing the inclusion of women and marginalized communities, the 2015 constitution surpasses those of many advanced democratic nations.Of late, the constitution is facing increasing attacks,  primarily from royalist and Hindu fundamentalist forces. These forces, who are unhappy with the removal of monarchy, want to revive the constitution of 1990. Despite the promulgation of a good constitution, major political parties have faltered in delivering good governance and initiating the long-awaited journey toward economic prosperity. Similarly, the major parties have failed to ensure government stability and they seem reluctant to mend their ways. This has created a deep frustration among the populace toward these parties. And some regressive forces are trying to exploit this discontent to advance their agenda, trying to portray the 2015 constitution in a bad light.

It is imperative for major political parties to rectify their course. The emergence of new political entities in national elections and the increasing public dissent should serve as a wake-up call for the political parties. Any flaws in the 2015 constitution can be addressed by reaching consensus among political parties. However, its fundamental tenets such as secularism, federalism, and inclusion should remain intact, at least for now. Attempts to alter these foundational principles  would be like opening Pandora's Box and pushing the country into another cycle of conflict and instability. All parties that played pivotal roles in drafting the 2015 constitution must unite once again to protect the constitution. If the 2015 constitution is dismantled, it is not sure the new constitution will be drafted and that it will be a better replacement. Therefore, now is the time to stand up in favor of the 2015 constitution. Reversing the current course is not a solution to our current ills.