After a public war of words, both President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai seem to have realized that this kind of bitter exchange is not helping the situation. That both President Yadav and PM Bhattarai seem keen on bridging their differences is a welcome development. Towards this end, the two spent almost three hours in Sheetal Niwas on Tuesday and discussed the current situation even as the self-declared deadline of the political parties to forge consensus by Asoj-end (Tuesday) passed without anything to show for it. The two all-important offices’ efforts to reconcile came on the day of Ghatasthapana, the first day of Dashain, the biggest festival of the Hindus.
Though nothing concrete is expected before the festival, this latest effort could help foster the understanding that all major political forces need to work together to arrive at workable solutions. The President inviting party leaders and the latter assuring the head of the state that they will come up with a solution by a certain deadline has become a ritual in the past few months, with no discernable benefit. Despite this, the ritual continues, with the next one planned for Friday. The President has once again invited party leaders, presumably to put pressure on them to work towards the elusive consensus. A positive outcome of the dialogue will depend on the flexibility on the part of the parties, not on what the President might be able to do by overstepping his mandate.
We agree with the concerns expressed during the talks on Tuesday that the failure of the two institutions to work in tandem would jeopardize the historic achievements of the Jana Andolan II such as republicanism, secularism and federalism. “The achievements of Jana Andolan II can be institutionalized only if these two institutions ensure positive cooperation,” Bhattarai told journalists after the meeting. Bhattarai, however, should understand that being at the helm he has to play a constructive role to create an environment of constructive dialogue for consensus. He should also understand that the President, as the guardian of the interim constitution, is justified in keeping up the pressure on the parties to perform at a time the country is without a parliament to check the executive excesses. Instead of raising an accusing finger at the constitutional head of the state, Bhattarai should focus his attention on bringing other parties on the same page.
The President cannot play an active role as per the interim constitution; the parties, which are responsible for the current crisis, should be the ones to work towards a solution. In this connection, NC and CPN-UML leaders urging the president to play a more proactive role is definitely not helping resolve the crisis. Instead, the opposition and the ruling coalition should reach out to each other to arrive at a consensus in order to rebuild their waning trust among the people. Once again it bears reiterating that it is up to the political parties to lay out the terms for consensus. The President, at best, can only play the role of a referee to ensure that the political players obey the rules of the game