Despite repeated calls from major parties and a section of his own party to step down, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is yet to relent. Instead, backed by the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), the UCPN-Maoist held an interaction with the civil society on Tuesday to put forward their version of why the Constituent Assembly’s term expired without fulfilling its objectives and why going for another CA election was the only viable option left to overcome the current political deadlock. During the interaction, party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Bhattarai accused Nepali Congress and CPN-UML of playing a spoilsport in eleventh-hour negotiations, instead of putting forth any forward-looking proposal acceptable to the opposing sides.
When Bhattarai took the helm, a big section of the society expressed high hopes on him, showering him with laurels for his consistent commitment to the line of peace and constitution. But the hopes have now turned into despair with the much-anticipated CA failing to deliver, and with the level of trust among the major parties waning. The CA’s dissolution has not only ignited a fresh controversy over the legitimacy of the Bhattarai government, but his decision to seek a fresh mandate has also not gone down well with the opposition. This has brought the country’s major forces at loggerheads, forcing people to believe that the current political leadership is not up to the task. The people celebrated the advent of republican Nepal with much fanfare, hoping that the change would take Nepal on the path of peace and development. But the parties’ feeble approach to the overall peace and constitution-making process has only left the people more frustrated.
Tuesday’s interaction once again showed how the government and the UCPN (Maoist) don’t get the crux of the current political crisis. This is the time not to blame each other but to create an environment of trust in which meaningful talks can be held and a viable solution found to the ongoing crisis. In a healthy democracy, the parties can always take to the streets, but they also need to engage themselves to try to find meeting points. Blaming each other for the debacle of the CA would not help overcome the trust deficit, but only widen the gap between the parties. One thing is clear: the differences on the modalities, number and delineation of federal states were the main reason for the CA’s failure to promulgate a constitution. It is an undeniable fact that the country needs to address the grievances of the marginalized communities and provide them equal share in power to bring meaningful changes in the traditional mindset.
This would not be possible without consensus among major forces, not only the parties but also those fighting for their cause. Therefore, the parties need to rise above petty interests and be ready to discuss all possibilities to overcome constitutional obstacles. Fresh election for another CA is still the most practical solution, as the sovereign people will get one more opportunity to choose their representatives in a changed political environment. The reinstatement of the jumbo CA with 601 members would only increase people’s frustrations. But if the parties do find consensus, it could yet be revived for a few days to bring the political process back on track, and create an environment of trust for a fresh election, which now is inevitable