A screengrab of a TikTok post involving Nepali Congress’ general secretary Bishwa Prakash Sharma

A three-year-old video of a speech by Bishwa Prakash Sharma, the general secretary of the Nepali Congress, has gone viral on Tiktok. In the 1.4 minute-long video, Sharma claimed the Nepal Congress, particularly its then chair Sushil Koirala, had taken a strong stance, making it possible for Nepal to promulgate the Constitution in 2015. Sharma quoted the Nepal prime minister as saying during his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special emissary S. Jaishankar in September 2015, “We will promulgate the Constitution on September 20 [2015]. We won’t listen to anyone.” Sharma argued that India implemented the border blockade on Nepal as a result of its “nationalist” position, which he linked to the Constitution’s adoption.

In the video, Sharma is heard saying:

If you are having tea, please pay attention to me. Did you vote for Comrade KP Oli because of his nationalism? Because he opposed the blockade with the loudest voice? Sisters and brothers, we [Nepali Congress] could have failed, made errors, or neglected to speak out against the blockade. But India imposed the blockade not because of the actions of the Communist Party. It did so because of the Nepali Congress–because of Sushil Koirala. Had he agreed when he was asked by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emissary to not promulgate the Constitution on September 20, the Constitution would not have been promulgated, and the blockade would not have been imposed.

Koirala responded to the Indian envoy by saying, ‘This is our internal matter and we will do whatever we need to do. We won’t listen to anyone. The Constitution will definitely be promulgated on September 20, 2015. Please convey this to Prime Minister Modi.

The blockade was subsequently imposed when the Constitution was proclaimed. The Constitution was adopted as a result of our nationalist stance. Nationalism should be goal-oriented, not impulsive. Our efforts were successful, and the country now has a Constitution. People voted for KP Oli for his position, but what did the country accomplish?

Bishwa prakash sharma

On September 25, 2022, a TikTok user named “sijan521” shared the video with a caption: “If you are sipping tea, pay attention to this for a bit.” The video has received 26,700 likes and more than 1,000 comments and has been shared 259 times.

Sharma claimed in the video that the Nepali Congress’s staunch stance was the only reason the Constitution was ratified.

Nepal Check fact-checked the claim made by Sharma, who is contesting the parliamentary elections slated for November 20 from a constituency in Jhapa district. The speech, delivered by Sharma three years ago during an election campaign, was recently shared by TikTok users ahead of the polls.

When and where did Sharma make the speech? What was the context? These were the questions we posed before fact-checking his claim.

We found out Sharma had delivered the speech at an electoral rally in Dang district on November 23, 2019. A by-election was slated for November 30, 2019, following the death of Uttar Kumar Khatri, a CPN-UML provincial assembly member from the district in Lumbini province in Western Nepal. The Nepal Communist Party had fielded Khatri’s wife Bimala Khatri (Oli), who defeated Nepali Congress’s Keshav Acharya at the polls.

Sharma, then the main opposition party spokesperson, criticized former prime minister KP Sharma Oli by citing India’s November 2, 2019 release of a new map that included Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement clarifying the Nepal government’s position that the Kalapani region belonged to Nepal four days after India unveiled the new map.

Here’s a timeline of events in lead up to Constitution’s promulgation.

  • Nepal promulgated the country’s post-war Constitution on September 20, 2015. On September 16, 2015, the Constituent Assembly (CA) passed the Constitution Bill with a two-thirds majority. Out of the 601 members of the Constituent Assembly, 598 were present when the assembly was held. Among them, 532 members participated in the voting. While 25 members opposed the bill, 507 voted in favour of the Constitution. Fifty-eight members of agitating Madhes-based parties abstained from the proceedings, as per The Kathmandu Post. According to Subash Chandra Nembang, the Speaker of CA, 537 members signed the original statute approved by the Constituent Assembly.

  • Three days later, the Indian government imposed an economic blockade, chided by Nepal’s adoption of the Constitution. Even though the Indian government did not refer to it as a blockade, Sushma Swaraj, the country’s foreign minister at the time, acknowledged as much in response to a query in the Indian Parliament in December 2015 that the blockade India had imposed on Nepal was not the first one.

  • Even after the Constituent Assembly promulgated the Constitution, uncertainty persisted since the President arrived at the Parliament a little late on the day of promulgation, according to Speaker Nembang. On the day, political parties stood together to promulgate the Constitution and were keen to show such unity to implement the Constitution, according to Nembang.

  • A few political parties had protested against the Constitution, claiming it didn’t guarantee their rights. In particular, Madhes-based parties had joined protests demanding greater rights for their communities in the federal system.

  • In a joint statement released on September 9, 2015, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, and the then UCPN Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ urged the demonstrators to engage in negotiations before the CA ratified the legislation. Even after the Constitution was adopted, the political factions could not come to an accord.

  • Jaishankar’s trip to Nepal was reportedly intended to prolong the formal adoption of the Constitution even after it had been approved by the CA, according to a BBC Nepali report. The report was based on the book “Kathmandu Dilemma: Resettling India-Nepal Ties,” written by Ranjit Rae, the former Indian ambassador to Nepal. The Indian Foreign Secretary met with the leaders of the protesting Madhesi parties, President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Koirala, UML Chairman Oli, and Maoist Chairman Prachanda.

  • Jaishankar pressed Koirala, Oli and Prachanda at the meetings to delay the Constitution’s unveiling until the Madhesis’ grievances had been addressed. However, Nepal’s leaders were not prepared to listen to Jaishankar, as Rae was cited by BBC Nepali in its article as saying.

  • According to the BBC report, Jaishankar informed Prachanda during their meeting that India would not endorse the Constitution. Prachanda responded to Jaishankar by saying that he ought to have come 15 days earlier or 15 days later.

  • According to a news report published in Onlinekhabar, Prime Minister Koirala, UML President Oli and Prachanda gave the same answer to Jaishankar’s message from the Indian government about the protesters’ demand for constitutional amendments.

  • Even as the Indian envoy was ending his tour to Nepal, three major parties had called for a celebration to honor the proclamation of the Constitution. From the time the constitution was approved by the CA until it was formally ratified, the three major parties had remained together. Before the Constitution was legally ratified, they had reached consensus on a number of topics.

All three major political parties take credit for the promulgation of the Constitution amid protests in September 2015.

Sharma’s claim that the Constitution was promulgated only because of the Nepali Congress’s firm stance is misleading, despite the fact that Sushil Koirala, then the Prime Minister and the President of the Nepali Congress, played a significant part in the process. Sharma made this claim while downplaying the fact that the major political parties were united and worked together during the Constitution’s promulgation.

ClaimClaimed byNepal Check Verdict
Constitution was promulgated only because of the Nepali Congress’ firm positionBishwa Prakash Sharma, former spokesperson and current General Secretary of the Nepali CongressMisleading
Nepal Check verdict after fact-checking Nepali Congress’ General Secretary Bishwa Prakash Sharma’s claim that the Constitution was promulgated only because the Nepali Congress had adopted a firm position.