Nepali Congress general secretary and deputy prime minister Prakash Man Singh on Tuesday said that during a discussion among top leaders of the major political parties, the idea of replacing the term secularism with an appropriate term has been floated.
The erstwhile Hindu state, Nepal was declared a secular country in 2007 after Nepal’s hardcore Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist joined ainstream politics after a decade-long insurgency that killed over 13,000 people.
In 2008, Nepal abolished the 240-year-old monarchy and declared the country a "secular, federal democratic republic."
Unified CPN-Maoist was the main force behind declaring Nepal as a secular nation. However, now the party has changed its stance with majority of people voicing in favour of returning to a Hindu state during the two-day public debate over the preliminary draft of the constitution.
The Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Madeshi-based political parties also wanted ‘secularism’ to go.
UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda on Tuesday said that the term ‘secularism’ is not an appropriate one and it would be replaced by a suitable term in the new constitution.
Talking to reporters at his residence, Prachanda said they are mulling to replace the word while finalising the new constitution as it has hurt the sentiments of the general public.
"We found during the feedback collection process that the people were deeply displeased and hurt with the usage of the term 'secularism', therefore, when the new constitution is promulgated, the term will be replaced by another suitable term," he said.
During the public opinion collection last week, majority of the people preferred the word 'Hindu' or 'religious freedom' instead of using the term 'secularism'.
There are impressions among the majority of the people that secularism may encourage religious conversion through monetary play in the country where 80 per cent of the population is Hindu.
In an editorial, the Ekantipur Online said, "Over the past few days, a campaign to remove the word 'secularism' from the constitution has been gaining momentum. Many politicians from the CPN-UML and Nepali Congress had always been opposed to the declaration of Nepal as a secular state and were secretly in favour of defining Nepal as a Hindu state."
"These politicians have now been emboldened by the suggestion of some members of the civil society to remove secularism as a constitutional principle," the editorial said.
Other feedbacks from people included a directly elected prime minister or president.