President Ram Baran Yadav has extended the deadline for formation of consensus government by six more days, the second extension in a week, on the request of the four main political forces. But given the rigid stands of both the ruling and opposition forces, it is hard to see how they can come to an agreement in the next six days. Following NC’s nomination of its president Sushil Koirala as the party’s official PM candidate, we were hopeful that the long-running deadlock would finally be broken with the formation of consensus government under Koirala’s leadership. We were hopeful because NC had proposed its candidate on the request of UCPN (Maoist) and CPN-UML. But with the Maoist-Madhesi ruling coalition sticking to its old demand that along with new PM candidate important constitutional issues also be settled in ‘package’, a breakthrough seems elusive.
We believe formation of a consensus government under Nepali Congress leadership is the best way out of the current crisis. First, the party has a legitimate claim as the two of the three big parties, UML and Maoists, have each led the government twice since the election of Constituent Assembly in 2008. As per the understanding between the four forces on the eve of CA’s demise too, NC should get to lead the new election government. We find the ruling coalition’s demand that contentious constitutional questions be settled before the formation of new government problematic. If all constitutional questions are to be settled even before we elect a new CA, why is the new assembly needed in the first place? The reason we are electing a new CA is because its old avatar failed in its mandate to give Nepal a timely constitution. Now it is up to Nepali people to decide what kind of constitution they want, which they will do through their votes for the new CA. We are strongly against the idea of deciding important constitutional matters among a small coterie of leaders, not the least because these leaders have lost the legitimacy to do so following the CA’s demise.
Once again, the ruling Maoist-Madhesi coalition should make way for a new consensus government, for we believe that would be in the best interest of the country. Over six months of deadlock following the CA’s demise is ample proof that a breakthrough is extremely unlikely under the current dispensation. Instead of prolonging the impasse, and with it the situation of executive, legislative and now judicial vacuum, the political parties would be wise to opt for the most conducive route for a breakthrough: which is the removal of Bhattarai government and its replacement with an NC-led consensus coalition. It is often argued that just the ouster of the government without solving other contentious issues would lead the country nowhere.
But this is a disingenuous argument, one that assumes only the current ruling coalition understands what is best for the country and is the only force capable of taking the country into an election. If something isn’t working, why not explore an alternative? We would thus like to see broad consensus on new government established within the next six days, failing which all political forces risk being discredited in the eyes of the people, the ruling Maoist-Madhesi alliance more than any other force. The alliance needs to understand the risk of calling the President’s bluff by asking him to repeatedly extend the deadline. It could be flirting with disaster