By S. Chandrasekharan
It looked that Nepal was almost reaching the end game with most of the issues relating to the peace process and the new constitution completed within the final dead line of end May given by the Supreme Court while allowing the extension last time.
Despite an extreme position taken in the Palungtar plenum to go for a People’s revolt, it looked that Chairman of the UCPN (Maoist) had realised particularly after his resignation in 2009 that a moderate position rather than an extreme one would make him a “national leader” acceptable to all.
Thus, he had steadily moved to complete the peace process and constitution making without creating any major hurdle as it was well known that without the cooperation of the Maoists, the peace process and the draft of a new constitution cannot be completed.
The ideal situation would have been for a “consensus government” and since this was not feasible- given the lack of trust among the political parties, the next best thing was that a Maoist led government would prove successful. This was the expectation of the people.
Dahal had also led the ‘Dispute resolution Sub Committee’ to resolve almost all of the outstanding disputes – 198 out of 200 with only two major disputes on State Structure and form of Governance remaining to be solved.
Now all of a sudden, what we now see is a stalled peace process and a resumption of the “Blame game.”
As before, at the time when the crucial decisions are to be taken to meet the dead line, the Maoists had a prolonged Central Committee meeting to sort out their internal disputes over the very same issues which had already been decided earlier.
In this cc meeting which ended on 15th Jan, as usual two reports were placed ( not three this time as Bhattarai, now Prime Minister- did not produce one), one taking a moderate line by Chairman Dahal and another by the so called hard line group led by Mohan Baidya.
Dahal is said to have given in to the Baidya group and agreed to form a ‘respectable army integration’ and a people oriented, anti imperialistic and anti feudal constitution. He had also agreed to discuss the group entry into the Nepalese Army once again ( he had earlier accepted individual entries after prolonged discussion), an armed role for the combatants so integrated and creating positions in proportion of their numbers in the security bodies so created. There is a contradiction here, as an armed role or positions in the security setup will not arise if the “bulk entry” is to be accepted.
There is no way other parties would agree to go back on the decision taken on the mode of integration into the Nepal Army, though there could be adjustments on the positions for the PLA combatants.
Worse still, Dahal agreed in the central committee to withdraw his decisions in the sub committee of the Constitutional Assembly which he headed on the ground that his party did not approve of his decisions. Surely this position will again be not acceptable to other parties who had argued and reasoned in many meetings to come to such decisions!
It looks that the Maoists are orchestrating “very deep differences” to bring other parties to their line of thinking both in the peace process and in constitution making! There is thus the High Drama again!
Not to be outdone, the Nepali Congress has gone back on its approval in principle of a directly elected President as the chief executive. Instead they are now insisting on a directly elected presidential system, but with a prime minister elected by and accountable to the parliament. Thus, the executive powers are to be shared between the prime minister and the president.
What they are insisting is a hybrid model, with the president elected, a cabinet named by the president but responsible to the Parliament and not to the President.
Why has the Nepali Congress suddenly realised that an executive president with all powers is not good for the stability of the country and why did they not raise this issue much earlier? It is not clear.
What is said in the Nepalese media is that if the Maoists win the elections with Prachanda leading as President, this will lead to instability in the country and the Maoists will succeed in their agenda for a complete restructuring of the country and the society!
This shows that the Nepali Congress does not seem to have confidence in themselves in winning the elections and are giving up the fight even before it has started.
Time is running out. The Supreme Court had rejected the petitions filed by the Special Committee of the Constituent Assembly and the Government seeking a revision of its earlier ruling against the extension of the assembly.
The CA has the option of completing at least a skeleton of the constitution before the dead line or allow itself to be dissolved by end May to a political vacuum and uncertain political future.
The choice is theirs and people in Nepal will not forgive them if they do not put their act together.