Nepali Times
My Take
Mistake 2.0


On Wednesday, the two main coalition partners signed an agreement with Madhesi People's Rights Forum to pave the way for the latter to join the government. This latest in a series of agreements, however, fails to recognise the reality of post-conflict transition in Nepal.

Ever since Madhav Kumar Nepal replaced Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as prime minister after the latter's botched attempt to dismiss the then army chief, there had been a dispute about the roadblock to the peace process and constitution writing posed by the absence from the power equation of the largest party in parliament.

The concern was appropriate but the argument was wrong, on at least two counts. First, the Maoist party and their apologists deliberately failed to mention that Dahal alone was responsible for bringing down his government. Second, the Maoist party could not be out of the power equation precisely because they became the single largest party after the election, with 238 out of 601 seats in the Constituent Assembly-cum-Parliament. Even with fewer seats, they would have to be part of any decision-making process relevant to the peace process and the new constitution.
The reason is simple. In the post-conflict transition, a party to the conflict cannot be kept out of power-sharing. That reasoning applies to Nepali Congress as well.

However, it's the same mistake all over again. It's back to the post-election days when the two major communist parties were in power and NC was in the opposition. The peace process and constitution writing cannot proceed without the active participation of the Maoists and NC Ė the two principal architects of the peace process.
With the deadlock continuing and the CA being extended for a year on 28 May last year, Madhav Nepal offered to leave to pave way for consensus. When consensus proved elusive, he resigned anyway last June to facilitate power-sharing. In other words, it was to create an opportunity to accommodate the Maoist party without humiliating them. But that opportunity has been squandered.

So what do we have now? It is worth looking back to plan ahead. We have seen the back of two majority-wielding governments, each of which did not include a key party. First NC was out of the Maoist-led cabinet (August 2008-May 2009), then the Maoist party stayed out of the UML-led government that included NC (May 2009-June 2010). With Nepal's resignation, it is silly to argue about numbers in parliament. After all, Nepal commanded a comfortable majority when he resigned.

We are back to the old, and likely-to-fail, equation. The seven-point deal between UML chief and current PM Jhala Nath Khanal and Dahal has effectively shut the door on NC's participation in a national consensus government, as it speaks of a rotation of government leadership between the two communist parties. Further, as Khanal hounded his own party's government when it was led by Nepal, the latter and party colleague KP Oli are making things difficult for him. All their talk about democracy and the peace process is mere eyewash.

But if the peace process, genuine power-sharing and constitution writing are still the goals, NC has to be part of the decision-making process. Time is at a premium here. The two parties have to reach out to NC but first, they have to discard the seven-pointer. NC, on the other hand, needs to internalise the fact that it made a blunder by not reciprocating the overtures from Dahal. Now it should not hesitate to join the government should the offer come.

There is still a possibility of concluding the peace process and constitution writing if the Maoists and NC come together, ably supported by UML and the Madhesi parties.


All's not lost, PRASHANT JHA
Make haste slowly, EDITORIAL

1. K. K. Sharma

NC never makes a mistake. It only follows the Indian instructions. So they cannot be faulted for making any mistakes, nor credited for making the right decisions. They will join the government if told to, and they will not join the government if instructed not to.

And by the way, how long is this thing called transitional phase to last.? 5 years, 50 years or 500 years etc.?

2. Vija Srestha
NC is the only party in Nepal that uses its own brain,they have made mistakes ,but the only party who was able to bring change and is able to bring change.The only party who ever speaks its mind,the only party at all the times to do so.Maoists went hiding for 15 years,and all these 15 years was a lie from their mouth,even now.The only maoist truth is ,we will be leading the government,using all methods,including guns.The above speaker is right about the years,we have already wasted 15 years thanks to maoist methods and strategy.

3. Never mind

#1, this from a publishers note in June, which was a copy the editorial in 2000, which of course had its thesis built up on what's been happening since 1990.

Those who say nothing has changed in Nepal in the past one year are wrong. Nothing has changed in 10 years.
It is to prove this point that we are reprinting nearly verbatim the editorial from this paper from issue #18 of 24 November, 2000 titled 'Left, right. Left right'. It is a tragedy that a country's politics, its main political discourse, has made so little progress in 10 years.

The paralysing infighting and factionalism are the same, the shocking lack of commitment to national development and economic progress is identical. Even the dramatis personae are the same, as seen in the front page picture of the issue from which the above editorial is reprinted.

4. Anil

The Maoist and all the other parties have to clearly understand that the current state of affairs cannot indefinitely continue, otherwise Nepal will be a failed state like Somalia and Afganisthan; and it is the people who will have to bear the consequences of the politicians mistakes. If the constitution is not drafted on time, the CA will lose its legitimacy(its mandate was  for only two years), and it is only right that the politicians should prepare to face the people's verdict.

Another CA body should be then elected  with adequate safeguards in place, so as not to repeat the same mistakes.

The goal should be to elect as many honest people as possible,who put the people's and country's interest first and who can focus on writing the constitution, rather than focus on advancing their political carrier.

A neutral interim government and election commission should be formed and entrusted with conducting the election and ensure it is free and fair. The first step for the interim government should be to create law and order so that people can participate in the elections freely without any intimidation from armed political and criminal groups.

Members of CA should be debarred from political offices for a specified period (eg 2 years so they cannot contest in the next elections) to discourage power-hungry politicians.

All the controversial topics (including the nature and shape of federal units if those are to be created)should be put to a referendum at the same time as the election to the CA. Also in the referendum, people should be allowed to vote whether they want a communist model or a democratic one.

The election plank of all the parties should be clearly stated.

And if the communist really believe that their model of governance (based on the ideology espoused by their European gurus Marx and Lenin)  is superior, they should be honest about it with the people and campaign on it, instead of confusing everyone with their democratic slogans. Being a communist democrat or a democratic communist is an oxymoron, and is like trying to square a circle.

 People from other walks of life(other than politics) should be encouraged to run for the CA. Lawyers,businessmen, and local elders from villages and districts etc should be encouraged to run, rather than professional politicians and foreign government and  INGO funded intellectuals. People interested in this could  launch another national party with representation from all regions just for this purpose, which could campaign in every district of the nation.

All the parties and contestants should be given adequate time and opportunity to explain their message to the people by creating a free and safe environment for campaigning. The state should all its resources to create law and order, and to discourage criminal elements from preventing the people to participate in a free and fair election. The election could be conducted in 4-5 stages to deal with security issues and for mobilization of security personnel.

Only then can we get get a CA that can speak for the people of the country, and can write a constitution that ensures and protects the rights of every Nepali citizen, instead of looking after the interests of only special-interest groups.



5. naresh
You are perfectly right Anil!
Lately, I read George Orwell's Animal Farm. Actually, I don't mind if someone is a die-hard Marxist. But why not dare in front of the public that Marxism is the best. This is 'example', and why not Congress face avowed Socialism in front of the public eyes. Dahal is turning himself to tricker like a protagonist Nepolean. I distrust his empty talks. He was once a great hope, and he's still in the machinations of megalomaniac gratifications.

Sometimes hard choices in part of public are needed. We, as consumers and voters, must watch every time these politicians before they get on red herrings.
Thanks Anil.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)