KATHMANDU, Sept 11: While the political debate rages on, leaders from the CPN-UML are clearly divided whether or not reinstatement of the Constituent Assembly (CA) can be an appropriate option to end the political stalemate.
A group of leaders including the party general secretary Ishwar Pokharel and former Home Minister Bhim Rawal have vehemently opposed the idea of reviving the dissolved body, but some other leaders of the party including former finance minister Surendra Pandey argue that CA revival can be the most viable and easy way for ending the crisis.
Pandey, who is a politburo member, said CA has to be revived even if the parties want to go for fresh election. Amendments to the Interim Constitution is essential for conducting elections -- CA or parliamentary -- as the present statute has not envisioned conducting fresh polls without promulgating a new constitution.
"We mustn´t opt to amend the constitution through any institution or means other than a legislative body," Pandey told Republica.
However, Rawal claimed that the proposal to revive the CA is an attempt to push the country once again to the same state of uncertainty and indecisive situation.
"The present political parties and their leaders have turned out to be a failure by not being able to gove the country a new constitution even after extending the CA´s term by two years," Rawal told Republica. "So reviving the 601-member body and mandating the same group of leaders to end the crisis will lead to a similar pattern of behavior that will yield no result."
"So, now the best available option is to go for fresh polls," he explained.
Some of the leaders mainly from main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML have been arguing that the president can take initiatives to amend the constitution by invoking Article 158 that allows the head of state to exercise "power to remove difficulties".
However, Pandey doesn´t buy the argument. He claimed that Supreme Court in its past verdicts had set precedents against head of state making amendments to the constitution using the same provision.
Pandey argued that promulgating a new constitution through the reinstated CA would be easier and faster because the dissolved body had already "completed over 80 percent" of the task.
UML leadership at crossroads
A recent standing committee meeting of the CPN-UML concluded that reviving the dissolved CA would be an inappropriate move and decided to stand for fresh elections.
But recently party chairman Jhalanath Khanal while replying to the dissident leaders from Madhesi, ethnic and indigenous communities in the party said in writing that UML can keep the CA revival option open if national consensus can be forged on revival. The UML dissidents have been pressing the party leadership to stand for CA revival.
Also, a UML taskforce led by party secretary Shankar Pokharel formed to prepare white paper on CA´s four-year term suggested to the party leadership to keep the option for CA revival open if the political parties can reach an agreement by resolving the disputes in constitution-writing beforehand.
A central committee member, preferring anonymity, claimed that the standing committee decision reflects the mindset of the top body which has absolute majority of the old leaders defeated in the CA election.