President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai are at loggerheads once again. Following the President’s ultimatum for a consensus government and the government terming it ‘unconstitutional’, the relation between the two seems to have hit a new low. President Yadav, while receiving Bhattarai at Shital Niwas Sunday evening, expressed in no uncertain terms his dissatisfaction at the government’s decision to denounce his call for a consensus government. The President has set the ultimatum of 4 pm, November 29, for the political parties to come up with a consensus PM candidate for the formation of a national consensus government to hold a new election for Constituent Assembly. The main opposition parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, welcomed the President’s move as a meaningful step towards political consensus, while Bhattarai’s party—UCPN (Maoist)—distanced itself from condemning the move outright, only questioning the President’s motive, thereby giving the benefit of doubt to the head of the state.
During his meeting with the prime minister, the President clearly informed Bhattarai that the process of formation of consensus government has already started and would continue. We believe the President’s call for consensus government was timely, as it came at a time when the parties were failing time and again to carry out their duty while they indulged in petty power politics. Bhattarai has now come to symbolize the inept Nepali politicians who, instead of fulfilling their responsibilities, are creating new obstacles towards the formation of a consensus government, an absolute necessity to bail the country out of its current political crisis.
We have long maintained that it is upon the political parties, rather than the President, to find a solution. Even though he has chosen to act now, the President seems to have done so without any ulterior motive. Thus the parties should now focus on putting together a consensus candidate for prime minister and formation of an election government, at the earliest. We agree with the opposition that the government’s terming of the President’s move as ‘unconstitutional’ is just so much hue and cry over an essential step.
The parties should mend their errant ways before it’s too late. The country has seen enough of never-ending political wrangling. Moreover, there is a perception, not unfounded, that parties have failed to live up to people’s expectations. We have come a long way since the 2008 CA election. People had high hopes that the CA would be able to provide the country with a new constitution that would guarantee a federal democratic republican system. But almost five years down the line, the parties have failed to convince the people that they are capable of doing so. It is now up to the leaders of major political forces to send out a clear message that despite their differences, they are capable of working together to solve the country’s problems.
For that, the leaders once again need to show their willingness to work together, something they showed in abundance around the time of the signing the 12-point understanding in 2005. We urge the leaders to engage in meaningful dialogue and find a consensus candidate for prime minister before the deadline given by the President expires on Thursday evening. Yes, the leaders might need some more time to negotiate; that is understandable as long as they can agree to a consensus government to give the sovereign people one more chance to choose their representatives in a free and fair manner