Nepal says yes to secularism, rejects Hindu nation proposal

Nepal secular

In a setback to the rightwing Hindu parties in Nepal, Nepal’s Constituent Assembly rejected a proposal to make the Himalayan state a Hindu nation and reaffirmed that the Hindu majority country would continue to remain secular. The proposal was rejected overwhelmingly with two-thirds of the members of the Constituent Assembly voting on individual articles of the draft of the constitution.

The erstwhile Hindu Kingdom, Nepal was declared a secular state in 2007 after the success of the people’s movement of 2006 that saw the abolition of monarchy. In a public opinion poll held in July in Nepal, the majority of the people preferred the words “Religious Freedom” or “Hindu” instead of “Secularism”. Protesting the rejection of the proposal, a group of Hindu activists carried saffron and yellow flags clashing with the security forces in the national capital. They demanded that they be allowed to march to the assembly to make their demands of Nepal being acknowledge as a Hindu state in the constitution.

The constituent assembly is in its final phase of promulgating the new constitution after the three major parties decided to go ahead with clause-wise voting on the final draft of the statute. The decision to go ahead with the vote was taken by the three parties despite protests from the Madhesi parties in the South and the violence that has been escalating in certain parts of the country. The Madhesi parties are protesting against the decision of the law makers to divide the country into a seven province model of the federal structure as decided by the parties on August 15.

The pro-Hindu National Democratic Party which made the proposal for a Hindu nation had demanded for split voting after the proposal was rejected. However, the split voting did not take place since 61 votes of the Constituent Assembly were needed to go ahead with the split vote, while only 21 lawmakers supported the move for a split vote.

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