Prof. Dr. Madan Kumar Dahal
Chairman, Mega Bank Nepal Ltd., Kathmandu
The intended tender for restoration of Constituent Assembly (CA) in Nepal is another notorious conspiracy orchestrated by inefficient political leaders to sustain power for a stretched period and enjoy unlimited perks without galvanizing fresh mandate through elections. This is an ambush designed by the ruling leadership to devise a big crack among and within opposition parties through bargaining for a trade-off between the chair of PM and revival of CA. The Interim Constitution 2006 originally envisaged the tenure of CA for two years, which was frequently extended at the instance of political parties altogether for a period of four years until it was unceremoniously dissolved at the mid-night of Sunday on May 27, 2012.
The Supreme Court, earlier on November 25, 2011, in its historic verdict directed that ‘extension of CA ending on May 27 would be the last one and the CA must promulgate the constitution within the stipulated deadline’. In case of failure to do so, the Supreme Court in its highly popular judgment also referred, alternatively, to initiate steps toward holding fresh elections or referendum including other appropriate arrangements for an amicable political exit. And, therefore, revival of CA would be against the ruling of the Supreme Court and also there is no provision in the Interim Constitution 2006 to revive CA and amend the constitution for encouraging anarchy and impunity. After the excruciating dissolution of CA political leaders not only lost their credibility but also the strength of political parties capsized irrespective of their earlier stature enjoyed during previous CA. With merciless fall of CA without giving birth of a constitution to its people ensuring federal democratic republic order, the sway of political parties and their leadership ended with their existence trapped into strategic conspiracy designed by ruling forces resulting in protracted transition with increasing risks and uncertainties engulfed by rowdy activities of regressive forces in Nepal’s political arena. Unfortunately, the PM, Chief of CA, and political stalwarts like Prachand, Sushil and Jhalnath including the leaders from Madhesbadi parties failed to convincingly explain and apprise the people about what transpired to bury the life of CA under the debris. And also they have not shown courage to sincerely admit the political blunder and apologize with the esteemed people that they were accountable to abrupt fall of CA and readily prepared to face consequences.
Against the backdrop of existing tumultuous political environment, the ruling party and government of Maoist-Madheshi united coalition including a few political chauvinists remained instrumental in sustaining protracted transition and managing the statecraft frequently with despotism through ordinances. The cacophony of political leaders is not only inconsistent and conflicting to each other but also the warring factions seem to be in oblivion that failed to provide amicable political solutions through developing a national consensus among political parties. Prachanda-BRB duo is aggressively propagating the idea to revive CA with a proposal that NC could head the new government if they consider the proposal, and more recently Prachanda went to the extent that election for President could be held if revival of CA is unaccepted.
The Rt. Hon’ble President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav explicitly viewed that CA can’t be brought back to life, and NC Chair Sushil Koirala asked his cadres to get ready for fresh poll and also cautioned that the context of CA revival is falling into Maoist trap; UML warned its ex-CA members to refrain from the activities confined to campaigning for revival of CA. On the contrary, PM Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai has threatened the opposition parties and its leaders with weak but enlarged and imaginary proposition that monarchy would return, ‘if political parties become careless’. There is also apprehension that major parties and leaders deliberately capsized the CA without promulgating constitution, and their strategy is confined to continue in power and grab the chair of PM primarily to maximize kickbacks and the benefits to be accrued from treasury and consolidate the political strength without legitimacy.
At this critical juncture, there is no alternative but to forge political understanding among the parties and leaders earliest possible preferably within two weeks for executing the process for fresh elections ensuring Federal Democratic Republic Order in conformity with the spirit of Janandolan II. It would be virtually impossible to revive CA without developing consensus among political parties on major issues such as federalism, forms of governance, elections for CA/Parliament and local bodies, and number of constituencies and members therein, independent judiciary, competitive economic system, and the sovereignty of people. This is not going to happen unless there is miracle. Consensus is not at sight and possibility for forging political understanding is remote even after a series of initiatives taken by President to break the political impasse. This is attributed to psychic fair and obsession with leaders that they would lose their kingdom they have captured for more than six years, if fresh election is held. Since the political leaders totally failed to achieve national consensus, it is now the prerogative of President as a custodian of the Interim Constitution to make a last effort to arrive at political understanding among the parties and move towards holding free and fair election for parliament within a year. This requires to constituting a national government based on political understanding comprised of all segments of society headed by an eminent statesman with full of knowledge and wisdom to successfully drive the statecraft by providing good governance and organize free and fair elections. This would pave the way for ending transition smoothly without bloodshed and violence.
Therefore, Rt. Hon’ble President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav is compressed for issuing the memorandum to political parties at the capacity of guardian of Interim Constitution asking them to forge national consensus within next two weeks. In case of failure to do so, the President has the prerogative in conformity with Article 143 of the Interim Constitution to declare emergency through developing political understanding among parties and constitute a maximum 15 - member National Government headed by an esteemed, experienced, qualified and competent statesman comprised of representatives from political parties, experts, specialists and intellectuals, civil society members, women, dalit, janjati, Madheshi, and minority communities such as Muslims and other backward communities. The new government should specifically be assigned to run day to day administration, maintain law and order, and hold election for parliament within a year. The government should also be empowered to constitute a High Level Independent Commission consisting of learned jurists headed by former Chief Justice to formulate the constitution in conformity with aspirations of the common people. The election is imperative but for parliament to ensuring political stability and sustaining democracy with republic order that came into prominence with the fall of Kingship in 2006.
The prime question is of sustaining the republic order with fresh mandate to be rectified by the people through voting for qualified, competent and honest representatives dedicated to sacrifice their life for people and the nation irrespective of caste, creed, sex, and ideology. Rt. Hon’ble President must find an esteemed personality to be appointed as the next PM who can command the respect of all segments of society. As a citizen of the country I believe that President would take the confidence of people; generate goodwill from neighboring countries especially India and China; and mobilize cooperation from prominent donor communities - the US, European Union, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and Scandinavian Countries; and galvanize support from the Nepal Army to back up the proposed civilian government especially for holding free and fair election and promulgating the constitution ensuring Federal Democratic Republic Order in Nepal, an unfinished task since last six decades. This is a most critical problem, and also immense opportunity. At this crucial hour, I’m fully optimistic that Nepali people would exhibit their solidarity, strength and wisdom to determine enduring peace and stability in the country. Let’s hope political parties and leaders will realize the merit of democracy! The God is great!