Nepali Times
We, the people


With a week to go for another constitution anticlimax, speculation is rife not about whether or if the constitution will be completed (it won't) but what comes after. There is bristling resentment among Nepalis about the performance of the CA after the last extension a year ago.

In last year's Himalmedia poll, 43 per cent of the respondents called for one year extension of the CA, but this year almost 49 per cent have voted against the extension. Even among those that have called for more time, 81 per cent are in favour of extension by only six months. The people understand well that time was never an issue as far as drafting the statute is concerned.

Asked what they thought was the reason constitution wouldn't be drafted, 32 per cent pinpointed the ideological differences between the Maoists and the NC. An equal proportion thought it was disagreement over the peace process and federalism. The bottomline is that the people know it is the polarisation between the Maoists and NC that is holding back an agreement.

What should be done if the CA term is not to be extended?

Many respondents took the opportunity of their interviews with Himal's enumerators to send word to the leaders in Kathmandu to shed ideological rigidity on contentious issues like federalism, governance and elections to come up with a framework that is acceptable to all.

Among those that were against the extension, 48 per cent wanted a fresh election, 21.7 per cent wanted the constitution-drafting job handed over to the experts and 10.4 per cent want the country to revert back to 1990 constitution. These are not auspicious tidings for the new republic.

Can the present government conclude the peace process and write the constitution?
The Madhesis (54.5 per cent) in particular do not want the CA term extended. This is a resonating response to Madhesi leadership which has been preoccupied with the power sharing game and has failed to articulate Madhesi aspirations in the CA. It is not surprising that only 11 per cent of Madhesi respondents expressed their trust in Madhesi parties.

However, the results are most worrying for the Maoists whose popularity appears to have sharply declined this year. The party's decision to abandon the line of 'people's revolt' seems to have come too late as only 20 per cent trust the Maoists to lead country to peace, prosperity and democracy. What is interesting here is that 21.8 per cent put their trust on NC, but 32 per cent remain undecided on the question.

As far as the Jhal Nath Khanal government is concerned, 65 per cent feel that it can neither complete the peace process nor deliver the constitution. People blame the 601 law makers collectively for the failure to draft the constitution. This may be unfair to some of the hard working and honest members in the assembly, but it is the general perception fuelled by series of scandals which has maligned the image of the entire house.

Do you see the possibility of a revolt by the UCPN (Maoists)?
Even as 34 per cent of the respondents blame the Maoists the most for obstructing the peace process and constitution drafting, most respondents (22 per cent) said they want an all party government led by the Maoists to complete the obstructed process. Another 21.6 per cent want the NC to lead it.

A public opinion survey, even one carried out among 4,000 respondents carefully selected according to scientific random sampling, has its limitation. But it is as good an indicator as any to gauge the general mood of the people in the social, economic and political milieu at any given time.

This year's Himalmedia survey gives a clear message to the political parties and their leaders that people are thoroughly fed up with their activities, or lack thereof. Even the response against extending the tenure of the CA is an expression of this anger.

The people have been very mature and reasonable in their analysis that inspite of politics, the country has made great strides which need to be protected. If the parties commit themselves to the peace process and constitution drafting with renewed vigour, people may be willing to give them one more chance.

Read also:
१४ जेठपछि के गर्ने? म्याद नथप्ने, चुनावमा जाने, KIRAN NEPAL, Himal Khabarpatrika

Related stories:
Nation's pulse
Netas, are you listening?, DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESTHA

1. B2B
Jhala Nath clings to his plum-position; no way! – you must go!

In less than a week's time Nepal shall be once more in the eye of the storm. In fact, since the time of the CA elections we are all waiting for this deadly moment when the 601 CA members will cease representing the populace to the Parliament at Singha Durbar thanks to the cutoff date where they got enmeshed in to no avail. If there is anything called self-respect and decency, those good for nothing aforesaid CA members should resign altogether to show to the country that they ain't the greedy and ego-centric individuals defined so far throughout the country who earn their living dishonestly without doing their stint for which they were assigned as mass representatives to the Parliament. Would they have this courage and decency? Are they ready to proclaim and clearly shout out that there should be no more CA term extension, ad vitam aeternam?

When this Constituent Assembly (CA) ceases from existing on the 12 coups of mid-night of May 28, 2011, the presidential rule shall prevail in Nepal. Without wasting the precious time, an ad hoc committee shall be formed with a new caretaker premier chosen by the president amid the most brilliant and competent figures in the city representing the civic society who will thereafter pick up some prominent personalities from the same as law experts in state structure, civil rights and judiciary to draft the famous new constitution which will be wholesale ratified by a referendum, if need be.

It takes hardly 48 hours to write the new constitution of Nepal. Do you remember the US Constitution? It has just 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written constitution of any major government in the world.

For once, the newly appointed premier shall head a cabinet of ministers chosen from all existing political parties according to their democratic curriculum and competence in different domains temporarily until a new general election shall take place within a stipulated time frame.

You must kick out the outgoing crowd!?!

2. balak
no more extension now.. no.. no.. no.. These rascals will do nothing for the nation.. they will only think of their own... If they extended the term for 10 years, they will fight for the post for 9 years and 11 months ... and then in the last month again will plan to extend the time again... so no more extension PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEE. NO NO NO NO AND NO.

3. Arthur
B2B #1,

"...the presidential rule shall prevail in Nepal. Without wasting the precious time, an ad hoc committee shall be formed with a new caretaker premier chosen by the president amid the most brilliant and competent figures in the city representing the civic society who will thereafter pick up some prominent personalities from the same as law experts in state structure, civil rights and judiciary to draft the famous new constitution which will be wholesale ratified by a referendum, if need be."

Forgot to mention, the PLA will first hand over their weapons and disappear, then the brilliant and competent commentators at Nepali Times will raise their kukhuris and proudly lead the ad hoc committee in slaughtering the YCL.

Finally his majesty will reappear on a golden chariot pulled by a team of flying pigs.
Only then will "prominent personalities" and the readers of Nepali Times at last be safe from the menace of an assembly actually elected by the people.

4. DG
  Warning to Nepali Times!!!
NT Photo head line must be corrected; StateChhetris are against Ethnic Racial formulation and have categorically rejected a state in the name of Khas Chhetruis. Please get your lines corrected to keep the record strait.

5. jange

Nepalis are willing to give the politicians one last chance to reform themsleves.

They have given them many last chances and will continue to give them many more.

Can't NT think of better pretentious platitudes???

6. rishav

Interesting poll, espiecially about "Do you see the possibility of a revolt by the UCPN (Maoists)?"

64% saying NO, 23% saying don't know. I believe this is correct, the Maoist leaders after returrning to Nepal from New Delhi during the insurgency mentioned that they would not be returning to the jungle, as if they were actually there in the first place, no matter what were to happen. This has been mentioned by Prachanda and several top Maoist leaders on several occasions to the annoyance of Vaidya.

After spending the  last 5+ years in cosy Kathmandu, and already have a taste of power their is definately no going back for these Maoist leaders. Their BLUFF can always be called, they can only produce empty threats now and are in no position to even try especially after the events of the successful counter march against their forced indefinite Bandh.

Slowly and quitely people are rising up and going by recent polls, the FEAR factor the Maoists use is slowly dwindling away. The YCL and PLA presence are their only hope, so once these elements are dealt with the fears of the Maoist leaders will become more apparent, FREE and FAIR Elections.

7. ASP
3. Arthur

"...menace of an assembly actually elected by the people."

People elected the assembly. They didn't re-elect it and haven't re-elected it.

Only in Banana Republic does the authority perpetuate its power without people's mandate.

Time's up for this assembly. 

8. Arthur
ASP #7, my point was that #1 was really advocating a constitution drawn up by "prominents" and a government of, by and for "prominents" based on hostility towards, and fear of, an assembly elected by the people.

A term of 4 years instead of 2 years is not unreasonable in a complex transitional situation (the usual term in UK is 5 years).

But I have no objection to a free and fair election now. What I object to is people who have no intention of holding a free and fair election pretending that is what they want.

You may well want a fresh mandate. In that case we are in agreement. But it is utterly clear that many of the people agitating for no extension are just like #1, aiming for power to "prominents" instead of free and fair elections for a fresh mandate.

I think it will be very interesting if their bluff is called. It seems to me that their hopes for a government of "prominents" (ie military rule) instead of free and fair elections are quite illusory. Congress may be in for a big shock if they think they will have a strong hand to negotiate with after allowing the current term to expire.

I am only a foreigner observing from outside so I cannot judge the risks. But I would not be at all surprised if Congress found itself stuck with another and bigger election defeat as a result of their current stance. That seems to me a good explanation of why Nepali Times is urging them to back off before it is too late (or perhaps after it is already too late!).

9. rishav

May 28th is approaching and no consensus agreed as yet! Still, most likely a 12th hour deal will probably be made, as the spineless Congress rather than stand for the nation's benefit will look for it's own selfish and short sighted benefits instead e.g. the 7 point deal in New Delhi.

The Supreme court has recently mentioned a maximum of 6 months extension in exceptional circumstances only, considering it was extended for a whole year last time, a further extension is a bit too much don't you think!

The Maoists have most to worry about if the CA is expired after May the 28th. They are worried of having to explain to their militant YCL and PLA members why they have failed and all their promises during the insurgency won't happen as they would have liked. All hell will break loose, already Vaidya has mentioned of crossing the floor if the Maoists give in too much in their dealings with the other parties.

The Maoists like demons, enjoy tormenting innocent people and after that they can't help but turn on each other. Recently a senior Maoist cadre, close to Prachnada, has threatended to murder Bhattari who then went to the party leadershp and Home minister to complain saying, "If they can threaten me today they can turn on you tomorrow," In a very surprising move, with the usual denials by senior party leaders to hush the events, a 3 month ban was given to this cadre. Things are starting to heat up and the Maoist leaders are starting to get a taste of their own cadres medicine.

The Maoists with the mentality they currently possess as demonstrated by this example from the grass roots all the way to the top it is not surprising they still do not understand the essence of free and fair elections without fear or intimidation. Firstly, the Maoists have not renounced violence, still in a war mentality but comfortable to sit in and pretend to be politicians in the CA, they hold onto their guerilla force and militant youth wings.

To hold a free and fair elections, all parties must practice non-violence, respect and tolerance to all those people of different political beliefs compared to their own. The Maoists need to renounce violence, be honest with their PLA cadres and explain to them that not all will get absorbed into the security forces headed by the Nepal Army/Police Force. They should also sort out and straighten up the YCL or cadres who are or have been involved in criminal practices and allow for investigations/prosecutions by the State against them, which ultimately will gain the trust of the people and will create an environment for Law and Order.  Only in this environment will Free and Fair elections occur, but then the Maoists would lose so that ain't gonna happen.

The Maoist fear what will happen after the 28th May, if things aren't sorted out, but then again there are far more important things to sort out than the constitution. The Maoist leaders will lose face, and they will not have it in them to go back into hiding, as I have said already they are too much enjoying their new wealthy comfortable lives to what to do that. They can't even BLUFF anymore, the other parties have got them where they want if they really want to bring peace in Nepal.

10. ASP
Fresh elections for a new CA alone would not solve the problem.

What needs to be done is to elect a CA independent of a legislature/parliament. This incumbent CA has been saddled with twin monumental tasks - 1) writing a Constitution, and 2) governing.

The first task (i.e., Constitution-writing process) has been stalled because of the second task.

Nepalis didn't wait for 60 years to elect yet another parliament/legislature. They elected a "CONSTITUENT Assembly".

11. Arthur
ASP #10, I agree that fresh elections will not necessarily solve the problem.

But I don't agree that the problem is the difficulty of the same body having to draft a Constitution and govern,

In fact both tasks are necessarily done by small groups responsible to the various parties, ie drafting committees for constitution and cabinet ministers for governing.

The problem is that the various parties are deadlocked in their disagreement.

When there was a consensus it was agreed that the CA could handle both tasks (ie choosing the drafting committees and the cabinet). But instead of continuing the consensus that had defeated the monarchy, Congress went into opposition to block the Maoists after the Maoists won the elections.

That problem will remain until the parties of the old Nepal accept that there will be a new Nepal or lose more seats so that they have less power to block.

Theoretically the deadlock could also end with the new Nepal giving up and letting the parties of the old Nepal just carry on like before. But that really isn't possible. People don't want to live like that any more.

12. rishav

Old Nepal, New Nepal. What happened to just Nepal!! I don't see any difference to prior the 2005 changes , in fact things are getting worse for the people of this nation. The Maoists have not civilized and continue to have little Chez Guevera attitudes despite the fact they have already sold their  ideology to become the exact same selfish corrupt, ineffectual politicians just like the rest.

Writing and forming a new constitution was the Maoists idea and their pre-requisite to supposedly stop fighting, attempting to join the political mainstream despite not renouncing violence and still holding onto it's PLA and militant YCL.  Come the 28th May if still no constitution the Maoists leaders are going to get it big time, the country can not keep stalling over something which is not as important as many other real pressing issues. The Maoist will have to swallow their pride admit failure and succumbe to their Cadre's ire.

13. ASP
3. Arthur

"...menace of an assembly actually elected by the people."

People elected the assembly. They didn't re-elect it and haven't re-elected it.

Only in Banana Republic does the authority perpetuate its power without people's mandate.

Time's up for this assembly. 

14. Arthur
ASP #13,

Those are good reasons for holding a fresh election.

But they are not good reasons for the aims in #1 and others for an unelected government of "prominents".

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)