OUR second page cartoon on Sunday shows President Ram Baran Yadav, with a stick in his hand, taking the political leaders to task. His message: Perform or let me perform. The frustrated President had summoned leaders of 21 parties to Shitwal Niwas to once again put pressure on them to forge consensus to end the political and constitutional deadlock. The last time he met the leaders, the President clearly told them to go for fresh CA polls, and the parties decided accordingly within a few days. But with the parties failing to meet their own deadline, the President had to invite them again to remind them of their responsibility. In response, the leaders once again set another deadline—October 16, which is Ghatasthapana, the first day of the 14-day Dashain festival. Whether or not the parties honor their pledge this time remains to be seen, but if they fail to do so they will have to shoulder the blame for any unforeseeable outcome.
It has been four months since PM Baburam Bhattarai unilaterally announced fresh CA polls. But he has as yet failed to convince other parties to come to a consensus, which is the only basis of moving forward at the current juncture. One thing is for sure: the primary responsibility to create such consensus is Bhattarai’s, as the opposition parties have (rightly) been demanding for his resignation to pave the way. But Bhattarai seems undeterred. His lust for power and failure to rise above petty interests risks jeopardizing the political gains so far. Despite the President’s repeated refusal to endorse ordinances and his continued call on Bhattarai to forge consensus, the latter has been adamant about not leaving his position. It is natural for a politician to try to cling to power, but the example set by Bhattarai’s predecessors as PM—Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Kumar Nepal—who relinquished their position after they failed to find consensus, should be a guide for Bhattarai. If his resignation can pave the way for consensus, Bhattarai should resign immediately.
Though the opposition parties like NC and CPN-UML have knocked the President’s doors calling on him to ‘do something’, it would be unfortunate if the President is forced into taking a measure that goes against the spirit of the Interim Constitution, which does not envisage any active role for the constitutional head of state. Instead, the political parties should themselves find a solution to bridge the trust deficit between them and form a national consensus government. Yes, there is no alternative to consensus, but the responsibility to forge consensus clearly lies with the parties, not the president. This said, the country can no more bear the mounting uncertainties that have been building up over the last four months. Despite the hiccups, we are happy that the parties did manage to agree on new CA polls. This is the most democracy way out of the impasse, whereby the parties go to the people with their agendas for fresh mandate. For this, it is important that the stint of Bhattarai’s caretaker government comes to an end and new consensus government is in place before the festival season begins. This would be a perfect festival gift to the people of Nepal.