Interview | “Safeguarding constitution and democracy will be my first duty,”: Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel

‘President or prime minister is not anything extraordinary but only the leader among the people due to official responsibility. This is how I take it.’

Nepali Congress Leader Ram Chandra Poudel/ Photo: RSS
  • Read Time 5 min.

Kathmandu: Senior leader of the Nepali Congress Ram Chandra Poudel has said that he considers the matter of protecting and upholding the constitution and democracy, which he fought for his whole life, to be the most important responsibility as the Head of the State.

One of the two candidates vying for the post of the third President of Democratic Republic of Nepal, leader Poudel said, “The President has an important role in protecting the achievements to date including the constitution and democracy, as the President is an important actor to help safeguard the constitution and democracy.”

It may be noted that leader Ram Chandra Poudel is contesting for the ceremonial post of the Head of State representing the eight-party alliance, including his party, the Nepali Congress. In the March 9 election, Poudel is contesting against Subas Chandra Nembang of the CPN-UML.

Leader Poudel talked to RSS correspondents Narayan Prasad Neupane and Bhishma Raj Ojha about the presidential election, his candidacy and the role of the Head of State. Excerpts of the interview:

As a candidate for the post of the new President, how are you preparing for it? How are you reaching out to the voters?

I have become a unanimous candidate on behalf of the eight-party alliance including the Nepali Congress in the election to be held on March 9. My candidacy has conveyed a message of national unity in the country. As part of the preparations for the elections, election-focused meetings and discussions are taking place with the members of the Provincial Assembly, the House of Representatives and the National Assembly. I have also reached out to them seeking their votes through letters and SMS. Talks in person have been held with the leadership of various political parties. Hence, the work to reach out to all the voters and win their trust is underway.

Why do you think you were chosen as the presidential candidate on behalf of the eight-party alliance, including your party, the Nepali Congress?

When the matter of the presidential election was discussed between all the parties, it was decided that I would be the candidate. In contemporary politics, I happen to be the senior-most member in every way and it must be a coincidence that I have got this opportunity because everyone consented to my name. I have had my part of struggle and dedication in the achievement of the present system and democracy. Considering my role and contribution in the establishment of democracy and constitution, all the friends considered me to be the right person. 

The President is a constitutional post, and you are an active and senior leader of the Nepali Congress. If elected, how will you maintain the balance to preserve the dignity of the post?

My philosophy of life, acts and struggles throughout my life have been for democracy, the progress of the country and the people’s rights. My biggest priority is democracy and people’s rights. The present constitution and system of governance was established after 70 years of struggle. Hence, protecting the constitution is my first duty. I am a person who has fought for democracy right from the grassroots. I think that these achievements of change can be protected through the presidency. It is also an important avenue to protect the constitution and democracy. It was on this premise that an agreement was reached among the parties for my candidacy. I consider protecting and upholding the democracy and the constitution, which I have fought for all my life, to be important.

What are the grounds for you winning the election for the post of President?

Since I was announced a consensus candidate representing the eight political parties including the NC, there is a popular wave in my favor across the country. People who are aware about the history of my struggles and know about me have expectations and trust in me. Due to my contribution in the struggle for the nation and democracy, I believe there is a public opinion that if I am given this responsibility then the constitution and changes achieved so far will be preserved. I also have the support of the parties. My friend Subasji is a candidate from CPN (UML) but there is goodwill and confidence from his party as well. I believe that public opinion will help me win this election.

If you get the opportunity to take over the responsibility of the next President, what will the people get to experience that is different from the past?

The challenges are changing and becoming more complex with time. Remaining alert of the challenges to the current system of governance and constitution, I think there is the need to work effectively without allowing anything to wane down. Our responsibility and challenge at present is to institutionalize the constitution and the republic. There is a fundamental difference in the characteristics of the Head of State of a republic and the Head of State represented by the monarchy in the past. I will make an effort to exhibit that difference. I am clear about the difference between the conduct of the Head of State of the past and present. The President or the prime minister is not anything extraordinary but only the leader among the people due to official responsibility. This is how I take it, as this is real and complete democracy and republic. Every member of the society is equal and independent. 

If elected as the next President, what would be your role for protection, compliance and promotion of the constitution?

I have dedicated my life to fulfilling the mission of promulgating the constitution from the Constituent Assembly and restoring democracy. As a person who has been a part of the mission and who is familiar with every letter, spirit and sentiment of the Constitution, I am determined to face any challenges that come across.

There seems to be an increased attraction of political parties towards the post of presidency, how do you observe it?

The President is the guardian and custodian of the Constitution and the post is of constitutional supremacy that promotes national unity. Hence, this post is of special significance. However, it has its own limitations. In our political system, the executive authority rests with the Prime Minister and the President acts only on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers. The function, duties and rights of the President are outlined in the Constitution. Nevertheless, as the Head of State and the guardian of the constitution, the President should be considerate about the national interests.

Nepal lies in a sensitive geo-political situation. What could be the role of the President to maintain relations with both neighboring countries and foreign relations in the right way?

During the unification of Nepal, the then King Prithvi Narayan Shah described Nepal as a yam between two stones. This indicates how we should proceed with caution and balance. We need to act by realizing the importance of non-alignment foreign policy and neutrality. Nepal should also adopt the same diplomacy. The Head of State can build the environment conducive to it and offer opinion and suggestion towards that end.

Finally, what could the people disenchanted over political instability expect in case you assume this post?

I see a sense of assurance and justice in the political sphere of Nepal after I was announced a common candidate for the post of President on behalf of the eight-party alliance. If I can conduct myself as per the expectations of the people then I think everyone can get a sigh of relief and sense of belief in this position.