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Siddhi B. Ranjitkar: After the CA Poll in Nepal

After the CA Poll in Nepal

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

The historic election for a Constituent Assembly (CA) has been successfully completed. Now, the question is who are going to influence the making of a new constitution of Nepal. In absence of scientific and even crude opinion polls before and after the election, it is hard to ascertain who are going to be elected for the CA. In this circumstance, we can only project the result of the election based on the historical data and on some guesswork.

First of all, this election has been a mixed election, in other words it is the combination of direct election of 240 candidates for a CA and 335 candidates through the political parties. So, voters have voted for candidates and for the political parties using two different ballot papers: one for directly electing candidates, and another for voting the political parties for electing their candidates submitted in a sealed list to the Election Commission (EC).

After the results of the direct election we will know how many candidates of various political parties and independent candidates have won the election. Independent candidates means candidates not affiliated to any political parties. However, they might join any political parties of their choice or remain independent and act accordingly. The EC will publish the result of the direct election as soon as the counting of the votes is completed. The results are anticipated to be out within two to three dyas.

The second voting is for political parties. It is done so to ensure the representation of almost all political parties in a CA. So, all voters throughout Nepal have voted for one political party or another, out of more than 50 political parties contesting in the election. The EC will have to bring the results of this voting from all seventy-five districts, and then find out how many votes each political party has received, and then decide how many candidates out of the candidates on the sealed-list submitted to the EC by each political party could be elected. Then, the EC sends this result to each political party asking each of them for selecting their candidates from among the candidates submitted on a sealed list for electing to a CA. This process is indirect and time consuming. So, publication of the result of the election of candidates through political parties will take some time, about two weeks according to the time estimate of the EC.

The Prime Minister will nominate 26 representatives to add to the elected 240+335= 575 CA for making it 601-member assembly. Ostensibly, the nomination of 26 representatives is for ensuring the representation of the communities or ethnic groups and so on that have missed to elect their representatives. We hope that this CA will have the representation of all ethnic groups, communities, underprivileged people, and women so that nobody will have room for complaints.

Now, let us see how the composition of a future CA might look like. This guesswork is entirely based on the historical data and on my experiences in political analysis. I am not biased for or against any political party. I am presenting the scenario as it might look like based on the political knowledge so far I have gained.

Starting from the negative point as I see it. The Sadbhwana Party headed by Ananda Devi will be the most suffer among the parties representing the Terai areas, as it has disintegrated into a number of parties in its own name and in other names too. So, it is possible that none of the candidates of it might be elected for a CA. However, it might have its representation in the CA through a few candidates elected indirectly.

The Terai-origin three parties such as Madheshi People’s Rights forum (MPRF) led by Upendra Yadav, Terai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) led by Mahanta Thakur, and the Sadbhwana Party led by Rajendra Mahato are the most promising parties to win their candidates for a CA. They formed a United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and had fought for the rights of the Madheshi people; as a result, they won an eight-point deal with the Government of Nepal.

All these three Terai-origin political parties are the cocktail of different political ideologies and backgrounds. They are made up of the members of the Maoists, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML), Nepali Congress (NC) and Sadbhwana Party of Ananda Devi in their former incarnations. However, they now pretend to represent the Madheshi people and work for their interest. No matter what they say they have a better chance of their candidates getting elected for a CA even though they could not come to a common understanding for an election alliance; so they have competing each other for the slots in a CA. So, the conventional political parties such as the NC, CPN-UML and the new emerging CPN-Maoist would have a less number of their Terai-origin candidates elected to a CA than if there were not those three Madheshi political parties.

These three Terai-origin political parties together might collect a number of seats equal to that of one of the major three political parties. Individually, they might harvest around 50 seats each. They might come together in the CA. So, they might be the fourth largest party in the CA. They have increased their bargaining power in the past and they might do so in the future, too.

Historically, the NC and the CPN-UML have been the rivals in the previous election. These parties together held more than 90% seats in the 205-member House of Representatives in the general elections held in 1990 after the people’s movement for reinstating the multi-party democratic system in Nepal.

Since then, the ideology followed by the CPN-UML has been heavily faded away and moved closer to the ideology of the NC in deeds and words. So, the line of differences between the CPN-UML and the NC has been blurred. So, right- leaning voters might vote for the NC and left-leaning voters for the CPN-Maoist leaving only the diehard supporters of the CNP-UML for voting for the CPN-UML candidates. It might be reasonably good guesswork if we say that the CPN-UML might not be able to sweep the board in the Kathmandu Valley election and will share the winning votes with the NC and the CPN-Maoist. The total seats the CPN-UML might win in the CA would be around 100.

The NC has never won the majority seats in the elections in the Kathmandu Valley constituencies. The influence of the NC had been in Terai areas particularly the eastern Terai and the hill areas. However, a group of Terai-origin leaders split away from the NC and formed a new party or joined another party; the splinter group might cause the influence of the NC to fade away to some extent in Terai; in addition, the NC leaders particularly the circle of the supporters of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala had been advocating for saving the monarchy until the last minute antagonizing the young generation of the Nepalis that did not want the monarchy at all; so, the number of seats the NC might win would be almost equal to that of the CPN-UML in other words around 100 seats in the CA.

We do not have any historical data of the Maoists on the election, as they have born only in 1996, and have never been in the election. So, the election for the CA would be the first test of their popularity among the Nepalese people. Maoists’ Chairman in one of the election rallies had said that his party CPN-Maoist might garner at least 150 seats in the CA. He might be correct, as he knew the field situation. If it is so then all three major political parties such as NC, CPN-UML, and CPN-Maoist might win the seats for the CA almost in equal numbers.

Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ party (NWPP) has the history of winning a single seat in the previous House of Representatives from the Bhaktapur constituency. This time, NWPP might not win even this historical seat, as its leader Narayan Man Bijukchhe has upset the federalists advocating for a decentralized system of the State structure rather than the federation of states. However, his party might garner a few seats in the CA through the indirect election, as a few people might vote for his party.

A number of left and ethnic parties might win a few representatives directly and a few more indirectly to the CA. They might represent their respective groups but would not be significantly influential representation in the CA. Their presence would make the CA more inclusive than without them.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party led by Pashupati Shumsher JB Rana, Rastriya Prajatantra Party – Nepal led by Kamal Thapa, and Rastriya Janashakti Party led by Surya Bahadur Thapa might have a few directly elected representatives in the CA, and a few more indirectly. However, they might not be able to play any significant role in the CA. Whatever negative role they have played in the past was due to the undesirable circumstances the NC and the CPN-UML had created in the political scenario of Nepal. A political clown such as Kamal Thapa always shouting for saving the already-ruined monarchy would be the witness of the end of the monarchy.

The current seven-party alliance might either be reduced to a four-party alliance or expanded to a ten-party alliance in the coming days. The four major political parties such as NC, CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist and the three Terai-origin political parties (MPRF, TMDP, and Sadbhavana Party) combined together might win about 500 seats out of 575 elected seats in the CA. So, they might form a four-party alliance or extend the current seven-party alliance to a ten-party alliance for all practical purposes. The three monarchists’ parties might go on fighting against the so-called dictatorial rule of the future alliance of the major political parties.

April 11, 2008


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