With leaders sticking to differing views, no solution in sight
THIRA L BHUSAL
KATHMANDU, Oct 21: With the beginning of festive season and leaders from major political parties firmly sticking to their differing views, the chances of politicians making any headway to end the political stalemate in the next couple of weeks appears very unlikely.
Until Saturday, there was no sign of leaders from ruling and opposition parties finding any common ground on ending the protracted political as well as constitutional crisis. In the recent days, leaders from the two sides have hardened their stance instead.
Lately, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been lobbying for reviving the Constituent Assembly (CA) but leaders from Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, among other opposition parties, have stood against the proposal and insisted on holding fresh elections.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai at a function in Kathmandu on Saturday reiterated that holding fresh elections for parliament after promulgating new constitution from the revived CA was the appropriate political course.
But CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal at the same venue accused the UCPN (Maoist) and the prime minister of trying to prolonging their stay in power in one pretext or another.
"Forgetting all its duty and commitments made in the past, this government is single-mindedly focused on looting the state coffers and abusing authority," Khanal told reporters at the function. "If this Maoist-Madehsi ruling coalition gives continuity to the same tendency, we opposition parties will launch massive protests immediately after the festive season that will sweep the government from power."
Similarly, NC General Secretary Prakash Man Singh reiterated his party´s stance for fresh elections. He argued that it would be wise to hold fresh elections for CA and a new parliament and conduct referendum on the major thorny disputes such as model of federalism and system of governance so that the task of writing a new constitution from the new CA would be much easier.
The political situation has become much complicated because not only the rulings and opposition camps have hardened their respective stances but leaders within same parties in the opposition have stood divided.
In the NC, the party president Sushil Koirala is staunchly against reviving the 601-member jumbo CA but other two key leaders -- Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Paudel -- from the same party have been publicly lobbying for resurrection of the dead body.
Deuba argued on Saturday that CA revival is imperative for multiple reasons. He said the CA should be revived after resolving disputes in the contents of new constitution in advance. "The CA should be revived only for the purpose of promulgating new statute from the popularly-elected body, for the purpose of making amendment to election-related provisions in the constitution and laws to pave the way for fresh elections, and for the purpose of making new government from the legitimate House," Deuba said at a separate function organized in capital on Saturday.
He argued that those leaders from within NC and other parties, by opposing the proposal to revive the CA, have been helping the ruling coalition in prolonging their stay in power. He meant that once the Assembly is revived, the opposition parties can topple the present government in a legitimate way.
However, NC Spokesman Dilendra Prasad Badu claimed that his party´s official position was not to revive the CA but to go for fresh polls. "The chapter of reviving the CA has already been closed and NC is fully for fresh elections," Badu told Republica.
A recent standing committee meeting of CPN-UML decided to firmly stand for fresh elections and strictly instructed its former CA members and party rank and file not to be involved in the campaign for CA revival. Though top leaders from the party stand for elections, some second-rung leaders including former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey, erstwhile Chief Whip Bhim Acharya and several former CA members from the same party have been in public campaigning for the revival option.
With the leaders from opposition parties standing divided over the two options -- reviving the CA and going for fresh elections -- they have utterly failed to pile enough pressure on the ruling coalition in negotiations and their repeated attempts to launch protests seeking the government´s exit has failed to impress the public and gather momentum.
On the other hand, the flip-flopping stance by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on the part of ruling coalition has equally confused not only politicians but the public as well.