The CPN (UML) has fielded its Vice-Chair Subash Chandra Nembang as its candidate in the election of the President taking place on March 9. Nembang, who was the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the present Constitution, has stressed on creating an environment conducive so that the people feel close and connected to their President whenever the person occupying the high post steps out of the Sheetal Niwas, the Presidential Palace.
Talking to RSS’ Deputy Chief Reporter Narayan Prasad Neupane and reporter Bhishma Raj Ojha in the context of his candidacy to the post of President, Nembang, also the former Speaker, assured that people will not have to endure the traffic jams if he is elected the President. He was referring to the traffic jams that the people have to often endure during the VVIP’s travel in town when the security bodies stop traffic to facilitate the VVIP’s cavalcade to pass. Excerpts:
With what agenda are you going to the voters as the candidate for the new President?
My role and performance in the country’s parliamentary process, movement and democratic exercise is clear to the country and the people. The nation is familiar with the role I played as the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs in the government led by Man Mohan Adhikary and as the president of the House of Representatives, Public Account Committee to the unanimously elected Speaker and Chairman of the Constituent Assembly following the 2006/07 People’s Movement. The kind of role and responsibility I discharged after reaching to these positions by winning the trust of all the political parties in the past, in a way, proves I have passed the tests. I have given my candidacy for the post of President in the context of this background. My party has made me the Presidential candidate this time. I have reached to every party and lawmaker. I am very excited after meeting them.
There are many senior leaders within the UML. Why you may have been chosen unopposed for this position?
President is head and guardian of the state. This institution is a common patron of the people from Mechi to Mahakali, Tarai to the mountain, and from all castes, language and cultures. The President should protect the national unity and safeguard and abide by the constitution. There is a history of the promulgation of the constitution under my chairpersonship in the Constituent Assembly after winning the trust of 31 political parties. The party discussed and unanimously endorsed the proposal for my chairpersonship in the CA believing I might be the most appropriate person for the same in that situation. Thereafter, what sort of scenario manifested among the country, people and parliament has encouraged me a lot.
President is a ceremonial position. You are serving as UML’s active leader and Vice Chairperson. How do you maintain the balance to save the dignity of this position?
This is not difficult for me. I am the person who has already passed the test when I served as Speaker and the CA Chairperson. Then, other parties did never raise a question seeing me as my association with another party. Rather, questions might have been raised within my party. But, I carried on with my work believing I did the right thing. So, I, with a claim, am saying, “I am already a tested person.” The constitution was passed from the Constituent Assembly I had chaired. Call it a sweet coincidence; I am now candidate for the position of President entrusted with the responsibility to protect and abide by the supreme law of the land. My candidacy is appropriate. So, I understand and believe I have been chosen for this position.
Lately, the attraction of political parties to the post of President has increased. How do you see it?
There were attractions to the position since the beginning. All have regarded it as an honour. So far, two people have served as President. Their experiences should be followed in the days to come. Despite the position being ceremonial, the President plays an important role in protecting and upholding respect for the constitution while bringing together the whole country and its importance is inherent.
You have told that you were tested in the past. There is always a competition in the election. What are the grounds to win the poll?
First of all, when we assess the feedback regarding the announcement of my candidacy for the Presidential elections, the response is encouraging. People’s feedback is also positive. Since the declaration of my candidacy, I have reached among the people from different circles and the responses are positive. Secondly, the Presidential post is itself an institution to promote the national unity. This institution is taken and respected as the emblem of unity among all religious, castes and languages prevailing in the nation and I am always committed to the institution and the Constitutional supremacy. During my terms as the Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, the CA could promulgate the Constitution with the motto of the ‘the first Constitution by the people for the people’. So I believe my candidacy to get the role of the patron of the Constitution is appropriate and with all these belief, I hope to win the election.
In the past, there were reports of differing opinions between the Sheetal Niwas (the Office of President) and the government over some significant issues, how do you assess such things?
The former President and the incumbent President are well experienced. Their experiences and the challenges they faced resembled our experiences. Being based on it, I believe that now we could adjust with such kinds of things comfortably.
If you get an opportunity to take over the responsibility of the next President, what will the people get to experience that is different from the past?
Presidents so far have carried out their roles well. Prior to the nation switching to the federal democratic republic system, we were accepting and endorsing the eldest son from a specific family/dynasty as our guardian. Now we have the system allowing a Nepali citizen from any caste and community to take up the role of our guardian. My efforts will be for accepting past challenges as experiences and to be a ‘true’ guardian of the citizen.
Nepal lies in a sensitive geo-political situation, what could be the role of the President to forward relations with both neighboring countries and foreign relations in the right way?
President’s duties and responsibilities are defined by the Constitution and laws. The roles not defined by the laws are to be performed on the recommendation and with the consent of the Council of Ministers. But still there is a space for the President to facilitate the government and the nation to fulfill their functions by remaining as the guardian of the nation, Patron of the Constitution and the symbol of national unity.
Finally, what could the people disenchanted over political instability expect in case you assume this post?
The citizens should have a ground for feeling comfort when the President steps out of the Sheetal Niwas; they could feel that their guardian is among themselves. They could be assured that their issues would be conveyed to the government by the President. And, I, personally and politically, believe that the President could do this and the efforts from my side will be for the same.