The top UCPN (Maoist) leaders have come down hard on President Ram Baran Yadav for his refusal to endorse two election-related ordinances. President Yadav is reported to have turned them down as he believes such ordinances are meaningless when the Election Commission has already ruled out any chances of the scheduled November 22 polls. We wholeheartedly agree with the president. The Bhattarai cabinet seems to have forwarded the ordinances just to drag the president into controversy and invite confrontation with the opposition parties. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been warning Yadav not to overreach his constitutional bounds, which Yadav clearly has not—not in the case of the two ordinances. The fault lies entirely with the Bhattarai government that seems bent on ruling through ordinances instead of clearing the biggest hurdle to national consensus, which is vital to break the current political and constitutional logjam: the prolonged tenure of this caretaker government.
It is meaningless of the Maoists to reiterate their commitment to consensus unless they are ready to make way for a consensus government. The current Maoist-Madhesi coalition has been insisting that there should first be agreement on key constitutional issues (read: federalism) before they accede to the formation of a new consensus government. But that would be a wrong way to go about things.
The best course of action is for caretaker prime minister to resign in order to create a favorable environment for national consensus and formation of a new government. This government will be responsible for holding CA polls to get a fresh mandate for a new constitution. We do not believe a reinstalled CA, the same body that failed to draft a constitution in four long years, is a legitimate option. Nor is election for a new parliament more acceptable on same legal grounds. The new constitution must be promulgated through a CA proper elected on the basis of popular franchise. Instead, the caretaker government is trying to rule the country through ordinances, which should only be the last resort for any democratic government.
But we also believe that the opposition parties are doing their democratic image no favor whatsoever by urging the president to resort to unconstitutional means, the latest being that he should dismiss the current caretaker government and call for the formation of a new government, which will be in clear contravention of the president’s role prescribed in the interim constitution. These competing stands have increased the polarization between government and non-government forces.
This in turn has created a situation where each force tries to undermine the other through undemocratic means. For instance, UCPN (Maoist) is trying to play in the gap that has emerged owing to differences between Koirala and Deuba factions in Nepali Congress, while NC has decided to up the ante against the Maoists by resurrecting the issue of the misuse of PLA funds by Maoist leaders. This brinksmanship must stop. Both the government and opposition realize there is no alternative to consensus. In this situation, rather than trying to weaken each other into submission, each side should explore ways to work together for timely resolution of the current impasse. Weakened national parties, in the end, will be in no one’s interest, not the parties and certainly not the country