Explained: violence over Nepal's new Constitution
With nearly eight years of effort, Nepal has finally promulgated a new Constitution. Nepal, a Hindu monarchy for 239 years has now chosen to be a Secular Democratic Republic.
While the adoption of a new Constitution should have been a joyous occasion for all Nepalese, half the country is up in arms against it.
The new Constitution was not the result of political consensus and was rushed through by the main political parties in the Constituent Assembly. Those living in Nepal's Terai plains bordering India feel that the Constitution institutionalises discrimination against them and that they have been denied their fair stake in a restructured Nepali state. They have protested by burning copies of the Constitution and by indulging in arson and public protests.
While India has been supportive of Nepal's constitution making process, in view of the continuing violence in Nepal's Terai, it has stopped short of welcoming the new Constitution.
The Nepalese political leadership seems to have ignored India's advice on developing a consensus amongst all the stakeholders before a Constitution is adopted.
India's has now urged that the differences with the disgruntled population "should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and institutionalised in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance" of the Constitution. It remains to be seen whether the political class in Nepal will heed India's advice.