Given the failure of political parties to clear the way for new CA polls by May end, the ruling UCPN (Maoist) resurrected the agenda of revival of old CA which was unceremoniously dissolved last May. The United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF), the alliance of five Madhesh-based parties in the government, also seemed to be warming up to the idea. But it appears there are big differences within the ruling parties on whether CA revival (or election of a new one) is the best way forward. In our view, the revival of the dissolved Constituent Assembly is a definite no-no. The CA that was elected in 2008 is dead, gone because it could not fulfill its responsibility of giving the country a new constitution. The body failed in its duty despite its repeated, legally questionable extensions. To try to flog the dead horse now—nearly a year into its death—can only be interpreted as yet another delaying tactic of the government.
In this connection, recent indications from the UMDF that it could abandon the current coalition if it sees no possibility of new polls under Baburam Bhattarai, are to be welcomed. If the Madhesi parties take the polls route, UCPN (Maoist) too will be obliged to stick to this, the most democratic way out of the current crisis. Of late, PM Bhattarai has also repeatedly emphasized new CA polls as the only solution; Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said that his party is ready to make ‘any sacrifice’ towards that goal. While we would like to trust the Maoist leaders, their constant flip-flopping makes us doubt their real intent. If they were genuinely in favor of polls, they would not bring up the revival issue time and again, which only adds to the uncertainties. To a lesser extent, the Madhesi parties in the coalition have also been guilty of not pushing a consistent agenda for a breakthrough. It would help everyone if the ruling alliance could come out with one clear voice in support of CA polls.
The ruling alliance would say that they have always been in favor of timely polls; that it was the obstructionist attitude of opposition parties that hindered progress. But the fact that the government had to backtrack from its commitment to make way for an NC-led government suggests there is a lot going on behind the scenes.
Whatever the case, the country cannot afford any more delay in resolving the longstanding political and constitutional crisis. For this, it is important that the dialogue between ruling and opposition parties resumes at once. We continue to believe the best course of action would still be for the current government to make way for an NC-led government by stepping on previous agreements between the parties. Failing this, it is time to seriously explore alternatives. If the ruling and opposition forces cannot, under any circumstances, agree to each other’s leadership of election government, a third-party candidacy can be the mutually agreeable option. Rather than make government leadership a question of ego, the parties should now sit down with a single goal in mind: election of new CA at the earliest.