Toward Regression in Nepal
Toward Regression in Nepal
By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar
Nepal made a huge step forward making it a republic on May 28, 2008. However, some newly elected politicians made a step backward asking for amending the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for replacing the provision for two-third majority required for making and breaking a government with the provision for a simple majority for the same. Then, other political parties badly defeated in the election for the Constituent Assembly (CA) found it another opportunity to offset their defeat in the election putting forward their preconditions for forming a new government; ultimately the newly emerged largest party partially accepting it, thus taking Nepal back to regression. All political parties disregarded the people’s mandate to working all political parties together pursuant to the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 without amendment. Surely, amending the constitution for replacing the two-third majority for forming and dissolving a government was not a people’s mandate.
Immediately after getting elected, abusing the elected position, leader of the Madheshi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), Upendra Yadav shamelessly told the interviewers and in the public forums that the amendment to the Interim Constitution was required to replace the two-third majority for forming and dissolving a government with a simple majority in the name of making it democratic. This was the first step toward regression taken by the previously unknown party and its leader Upendra Yadav.
MPRF is the cocktail made of various dissident leaders and members of different political parties. For example, Upendra Yadav was the former member of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML); another influential member of the MPRF Bijaya Kumar Gachhedar was the member of the Nepali Congress (NC). As he was sure not to receive the nomination of the NC for fighting the election for a CA, he left the parent party and joined the newly formed regional party MPRF. As many other members of the MPRF, Mr. Gachhedar was not a clean and non-controversial politician.
Upendra Yadav continued to put up his concern for amending the Interim Constitution for replacing the two-third majority by a simple majority for forming or changing a government until other major political parties such as NC and CPN-UML that did badly in the election for a CA picked it up for serving their own purposes.
The MPRF leaders have already started demanding the highest positions in the government for them even before the amendment to the Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for removing the provision for the two-third majority required for forming and dissolving a government, and replace it with a simple majority. They want either the position of President or Prime Minster. They would certainly get it and even more if the CA amended the constitution removing the two-third majority required for a formation or dissolve of a government. They would surely play the role the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) leaders played in mid 1990s when none of the political parties could garner the majority required for forming a government. Nepalis have already realized that politicians were shameless people and they could do anything just to acquire power and positions.
Lengthy negotiations have been going on for amending the Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for removing two-third majority required for making or breaking a government. According to the media reports, though distastefully, the CPN-Maoist leaders have shown signs of agreeing on it. If the CA were to amend the constitution accommodating this provision for simple majority for forming and dissolving a government then the regressive forces would be in full control of the power, and the peoples’ mandate would go astray. Some left politicians have questioned if the CPN-Maoist leaders have to agree on such a crucial matter why they took so much of time; it was the sign that they were not good negotiators at all; they would be rather better off going to the people rather than taking over the would-be shaky government.
The so-called political debate taking so much time on settling the political issues was the clear indication of the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the political leaders and the lack of their skill in negotiations. By mid June 2008, it has been already two months since they have been discussing various political matters and negotiating with each other about the political settlement without any sign of success.
The political leaders have been spending their precious time on criticizing each other and political debate. The leaders of NC and CPN-UML have been spending a major portion of their energy on criticizing the activities of the Young Communist League (YCL) activists and for that matter the CPN-Maoist. The leaders of the CPN-Maoist have engaged in the head-on confrontation with the NC and the CPN-UML leaders disregarding the people’s mandate given in the CA election despite their parroting off the need for following the people’s mandate. NC put forward seven-point preconditions for cooperating with the CPN-Maoist; similarly, the CPN-UML has laid its own conditions for doing anything with the CPN-Maoist going against the Nepalese people’s aspirations for all of them cooperating with each other to write a people’s constitution and run the government for the people.
The democratic faction of the NC led by Prakash Man Singh has also been spending its energy and precious time on obviously a useless political game. It even held a number of political rallies against the activities of the YCL, and demanded disbanding the organization saying they have been engaged in criminal activities.
Prakash Man needed to understand that people did not vote for him for holding such useless rallies but for his stand on making Nepal a republic. He also needed to realize that twenty of the twenty-two Koirala family members lost the election because of their stand on saving the Shah dynastic monarchy.
So, Prakash Man needed to consolidate his gains in the election rather than engaged in irrational activities. He has received more than two times the votes his nearest rival Pradip Nepal of the CPN-UML received. So, the voters of the Kathmandu Constituent number one overwhelmingly voted for him to make Nepal a republic not for engaging in pathetic political game. He needed to learn from the failure of his father and Supreme Commander of the people’s movement of 1990 Ganesh Man Singh. After the tremendous power Nepalese people gave him, he did not consolidate it rather engaged in petty political squabbles with his colleagues, and even attempting to impose his ideas on them resulting into the disastrous election defeat of his spouse and his son. He could have stayed on power if he had strictly followed the people’s mandate he received in the people’s movement of 1990. He could have stopped the regression that followed and ultimately led to the rise of the absolute monarchy in 2005.
The regressive forces in the NC must have advised Prakash Man Singh to engage in such fruitless activities for nullifying his extra-ordinary election gains. Most of them must be very jealous of him and his victory in the election. The voters wanted him to perfectly utilize the mandate he received rather than engaged in such irrational political rallies against the YCL activities. He rather should rally against the government that did not take serious actions against the criminals and let them breaking laws with impunity. He would be better off fighting against the lawlessness, and putting pressure on the government for the rule of law rather than the rule of thumb the current government has been following so far.
On May 28, 2008, the CA amended the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 making the provision for positions of president and vice president ignoring the people’s mandate given in the election for a CA held on April 10, 2008 to simply follow it. Blatantly violating the people’s mandate, the three major parties such as the CPN-Maoist, NC and CPN-UML leaders have engaged in a power-sharing political game. All of them have forgotten the people’s aspiration for a fast political settlement and then rapid economic development for raising the living standard of Nepalese people.
The regressive forces hidden in all political parties have again been active, and have been engaged in destructive competition rather than constructive the Nepalese people aspired for. The regressive force in the NC has put forward the candidacy of Girija Prasad Koirala for the first president of republic of Nepal. He has done nothing following the people’s mandate rather he spent his energy and time on attempting to save the monarchy. He did everything for making Nepal a republic only under the great pressure of other political parties and civil society leaders. If such a person were put forward for the president of Nepal then it was nothing more than the acts of the regressive forces in the NC. Similarly, other political parties also have claimed the position of the president. Political parties instead of cooperating with each other have been fighting against each other.
The civil society leaders were to put pressure on the political leaders for forcing them to follow the Nepalese people’s mandate and aspirations if they continued to squabble with each other about who was going to be a President or Prime Minister or about amending the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007. The people gave them the mandate to write a people’s constitution and run a government of all parties. Unfortunately, none of the political parties has shown the cooperation required for running a government and writing a constitution.
All parties in the CA needed to reach a common understanding of writing a people’s constitution within or before the two-year period of writing a constitution. They needed to fight against the remnants of feudal lords in all of the political parties, and run their political parties democratically and in a transparent manner to flourish democracy in the republic of Nepal.