THE latest statement from the acting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has once again drawn the nation’s attention towards the November 22 election. Neel Kantha Uprety on Saturday ruled out the possibility of holding the Constituent Assembly election on November 22, saying that the government’s decision to issue ordinances to amend the election-related provisions was not enough to hold the polls. He clearly stated the need to amend the interim constitution, that too with political consensus. The acting CEC’s statement has come in tandem with the opposition Nepali Congress’ and CPN-UML’s stance that November 22 polls were not possible under the present government. Besides the amendment in the interim constitution, Uprety also stressed that the election would be possible only if political parties arrived at a consensus at the earliest.
The CA election will not get legitimacy if major political parties do not participate in the polls and it would not have credibility, the acting CEC further said, raising a question mark on the proposed elections for the Constituent Assembly. Apart from the government’s inability to meet the EC’s deadline of July 22 to remove legal and constitutional difficulties, its latest concern over lack of consensus between the parties has once again showed that election of any kind would not be possible without all major parties on board. It would be naïve to assume that caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai did not know about the impending repercussions when unilaterally deciding on the CA polls on May 27. This has also raised the question of legitimacy of the government itself as Bhattarai has been saying, time and again, that he would hold the election.
The time has now come for Bhattarai to re-think about continuing in his position, as the likelihood of his government of conducting the CA election on November 22 is virtually over. Notwithstanding the opposition parties’ call for a consensus government, Bhattarai has even forwarded the cabinet decision to amend the election-related provisions through ordinances which are now sitting at the President’s office. The President’s reminder to Bhattarai that he should garner support from the opposition parties to create conducive environment for election has also been ignored. This clearly shows Bhattarai’s intention to stick to power at any cost.
There is no doubt now that the election is the only way out of the present political and constitutional quagmire. But election of any kind, be it for the CA or the regular parliament as being discussed in the political circles, would not be possible without consensus among the country’s major forces. Bhattarai should understand that he has no option than to resign from his position and start afresh for meaningful dialogue between the parties. It has already been seen that the revival of the now-defunct CA is not possible with all major parties ruling it out. Thus, the parties once again need to rise over petty interests to seek a fresh mandate under the election government that is acceptable to all the forces. Now that the EC that has the authority to hold the elections has ruled out their possibility without political consensus, the parties need to gear up to find a workable solution to form a consensus government as soon as possible and begin the process of amending the interim constitution to hold the next elections.