Nepali Times Asian Paints
Death of an institution



Voluminous crocodile tears are being shed among Nepal's political class and civil society regarding the unceremonious demise of the Constituent Assembly. Many internationals are mortified by the turn of events, seen as one more proof of the chicanery of our political leaders.

And indeed the loss of four years has been nothing less than tragic, a time that should have been spent on healing, rehabilitation and reconstruction. The CA was a disaster for the way it played with the people's hopes and aspirations and emerged as a divisive arena rather than a place of compromise.

While decrying the waste of four long years, there is an alternative narrative on the eclipse of the CA. If what we wanted was a good, representative constitution which promised political stabilty, economic growth and inclusion, we may have been saved from the sad fate of continued instability and chaos.

The primary blame for the failure of the Assembly, naturally, goes to the UCPN (Maoist) as the largest party in the CA, which has been part of the state establishment of Nepal since coming above ground in 2006. The party chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, manipulated the House for his own purposes, and his radical populism pushed the other parties towards unhealthy compromises which would have made it into the final document.

This entire process of constitution drafting for nearly all of the four years was conducted under duress, with the Maoist threats of revolt (Kharipati and Palungtar declarations), the intimidation of the polity, and the fact that the drafting was made under the shadow of the gun Ė the cantonments with their combatants were under Maoist command throughout the constitution drafting until a couple of months ago.

The rules of procedure of the Constituent Assembly itself made compromise difficult, as the thematic committees required only 50 percent majority to send their reports to the plenary, where only the two-thirds provision was to kick in. This ensured that there was grandstanding rather than a search for compromise from the start. The fact that the CA and the Legislature-Parliament were made up of the same members fatally affected the spirit of compromise. As the public well knows, the CA stopped being a House of 601 after its term of office was self-extended at the end of the mandated two years, and the negotiations entered the windowless room where 15-20 leaders called the shots.
The Constituent Assembly presented the darkest example of a representative body made toothless from the point the discussions entered the 'dispute resolution sub-committee' chaired by Mr. Dahal. Already, the original provisions of countrywide public consultations had been done away with and the calibrated procedures within the CA to promote debate and discussion had been truncated to near-nothingness.

On the last day, 27May, Sunday, were the Constitution to be promulgated, it was important for the 15 May compromise on the critical matters of governance (mixed presidential/prime ministerial), elections (mixed direct/proportional) and judiciary (setting up of a constitutional court) to be drafted and circulated. And yet, neither the CA members nor even the Chair of the Constitutional Committee were shown the draft. This was constitution writing as a sham, all show and no substance.

This is the kind of farce the constitution writing had descended to, with a handful of party leaders sitting across the sofa table, believing that they could decide on the fate of the entire country. For sure, the Constituent Assembly could not stand up to the high democratic values of the People's Movement of April 2006. This was constitution writing where the parties would agree to sign on the dotted line out of sheer fatigue and embarrassment.

In any case, we were set to be given a constitution which promised a mixed system of governance, where a president would have a supposed constitutional position but be directly elected from the people, while the prime minister would be chief executive, but be indirectly elected through the House of Representatives. This system was guaranteed, in the Nepali context, to promote authoritarianism which the people would have had to fight for years to reverse.

The constitution, if promulgated according to the 15 May agreement, would have introduced a mixed election to the House of Representatives where 55 percent would be directly elected lawmakers, while 45 percent would be through proportional representation. This high percent for the proportional system, while promoted as a tool for inclusion, would have weakened the representation of the people at the central legislature, as well as promoted authoritarianism. Given that the identity movements of hill and plain have gained such potency, one can expect much more 'proportionality' in the selection of candidates by the parties, and a lower figure for the proportional list would have been advisable.

The agreed-upon provision for a Constitutional Court was not in itself an undemocratic act, but in the present Nepali context it would have left the Supreme Court isolated in perception and spirit. Given the importance of the Supreme Court in upholding the rule and law in recent times against political parties intent in destroying institutions of state, it is incredible that the NC and UML agreed to this provision.

On the all-important matter of state restructuring, there was actual movement and a spirit of compromise in the last day of life of the Constituent Assembly, in the meeting between the 'janajati caucus' and the political parties. But everything came to naught as afternoon turned to night. It is not clear who pulled the plug, some say the Madhesbadi forces, others point to the Maoist 'establishment faction' of Chairman Dahal, which did not want the Vaidya faction create a ruckus were the House to be called.

For whatever reason, the Constituent Assembly was not even floodlit during the late hours. In ignominious retreat, individual members of the CA wended their way home even as the television journalist kept mournful vigil.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, however, had other things on his mind. Without consulting many of his coalition partners, without resigning from his post as required by procedure and decorum, he called for elections on 22 November. He was clearly out of line, and the job of the polity is now to rescue the elections from the clutches of its unhealthy provenance and convert it into a healthy, practical, principled exercise.

Looking ahead, the plan would be for the formation of a national unity government made up of a few trusted politicians who can concentrate on good governance and organising a free and fair elections. That elections, ideally, would be for a Parliament with membership below 300. Such a Parliament would set up a constitutional advisory body which would mine the mountain of material including the constitutional debates and conclusions in the Constitutent Assembly. It would provide a draft constitution to the Parliament which would be debated and adopted within six months to a year.

On the supposed road to prosperity and stability, Nepal has wasted too much time in chaos and uncertainty. Sadly, the term of the Constituent Assembly will be relegated to the latter era. We were almost saddled with a Maoist-inspired document and were about to go for it out of sheer fatigue and inability of the democratic forces to be true watchdogs for the people.

The experience of the CA would provide a how-to and how-not-to guide for the writing of the future Constitution of the Republic of Nepal.

A longer version of this article can be accessed at

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A national unity government with elections by November is the least parties can now give dejected Nepalis

1. aarmugam
Why lament now? You were all ga ga when the KG was toppled and you thought that you were at the gates of the Utopian Empire! Doubt if the election will ever be held, long road of further turmoil lies ahead.

2. Sagar Thapa
Kanak sir ko gangan jari chha!

3. nepali

people like you where at forefront for all this newness and now you lament. the so called intellectuals like you were aware of this situation before it even started. with the rotten political lot we have in Nepal, this will continue forever. now people should rise and make all these parasites (leaders) pay for their misdeeds.

Going forward, there is no need of CA or 601 members. We should go for referendum for all major issues.

4. B
I completely agree with everyone else views here. We all knew that we could not expect anything from these rotthen lots and yet all these people were dead against anything less than this. This was all designed by the so called intellectuals. If this country can not produce any other effective professionals, how can she produce great leaders...

5. abc
" The primary blame for the failure of the Assembly, naturally, goes to the UCPN (Maoist)† ... "†

how lame!!!!

read this and to expose the likes of Dixit

6. Janata

Ha ha ha! #5, I'd rather believe someone writing from Kathmandu than Kalamazoo!


7. KingG
I was no saint, Kanak, and yet you plotted with the so-called "democratic" parties to topple the monarchy. Looks at what you did, you invited despots who are out to chop the country up and gift the little pieces to India. 

8. Patriot
The janjati caucus and the demand for ethnic federalism has been carefully planned so there will not be a united hill constituency to counter the madheshis. Janjati activists are either knowingly or unknowingly abetting India's grand plan to weaken Nepal, annex it and take control of our water resources. That is not a conspiracy theory, it is happening right in front of our eyes. Read the signs.

9. who cares
yr column is not as bold and straight forward as used to be.

next CA election:

# 115 directly elected, 100 indirectly elected.

# 9 month life.

# issues to be passed by 2/3rd majority of mps and the issues that cant be passed should be sent to referendum. 10% mps should be let to choose one option for referendum, so there will be max of 10 options.

# mps wages, 20% monthly and 80% should be paid only after the constitution is delivered. 

#if there is distributions in the house, signatures of majority should be collected to pass agendas. 

10. Sanjay Thapa
Let me quote what Mr Dixit wrote, "government made up of a few trusted politicians".  You must be living in a dream land Mr. Dixit if you know a politician that you can trust. The definition of politicians is someone who is a congenital liar and someone who cannot be trusted. If you believe that current, disgusting gangs of political thieves will do anything for Nepal or Nepalis, wake up and drink some coffee. Communist Prachanda dreams of being a King of Nepal. Ph D holder Baburam has lost all credibilty and good will by a unilateral declaration of elections. Maybe Baburam thinks that he is the New King of Nepal.  Do you really trust these 2 killers. We must brace ourselves for more violence and killings. Violence is the language of the Communists and as long as there are Communists in Nepal, there will never be any peace or prosperity. Only loot and nurder. So, Mr Dixit, we kinda beg to differ with you. Long Live Nepal and May Mahadev Bless Nepal.      

11. Desh Bhakta
Time definitely lost, not to mention money.. But Still all is still not lost, YET! I say void all decisions and bring back the Monarchy as a watchdog for these stray felons who wish to still make a country for us. 

12. Uday Ghimire

Death of an institution !  O M G -  why are you so surprised. The Maoist killers only know how to kill. For 4 long years, we were lied to and taken for a ride. Does any care or talk about the suffering of families whose loved ones were taken away by force. What happened to all the people that are still missing, are they dead or alive. Does any one know or care. You know what - Nepal is messed up,  man.  

13. Nirmal
Apart from formalities and immediate reactions on the demise of the CA what I think is that the CA has a natural death but it died without doing what it would have loved: declaration of the new constitution. Everyone is not so lucky to do something they've desired for a long time before their un/forseen death.
By now, the bet would be an ideal word to replace the so much abused terminology "peace process" when we refer to have brought the ex-terrorists --Maoists-- into mainstream politics. Let me tell whys? By allowing the Maoists to come into the mainstream politics even without their formal renouncement to violence (forget their commitment to basic principles of modern democracy), we --you, me, media wallahs, international communities and the corrupt and inefficient political class-- did an ugly bet which we're condemned to lose.  Now there is just left a single bet --and which is within democratic thought--, that is to go for the referendum on all the contentious issues which have emerged during 4 years of CA. A friend of mine who, an expert in learning techniques of how to bet once suggested me, "Nirmal my friend don't ever go for an unsafe bet because you can be ruined however you will enjoy a lot when you are for a safe bet although the victory is not assured."

14. gurung
Another bahun with a cushy job -- while millions of nepalis are doing degrading and humiliating jobs outside the country for a penny.

15. Pratap Shah
Have a conversation of how the people are suffering each day. Have a conversation about law and order. Have a conversation about dignity and morality and prestige. Have a conversation about the waste of millions and billions of ruppes by the CHOR Netas.  How about no load shedding. How about no Corruption ! How about enough jobs in Nepal so poor Nepalis do not habe to go to ME to be sexually expolted and abused. The Nepali leaders have crossed all the RED lines. They all deserve very harsh punishment. We are headed for a bumpy ride with all the turbulence going on. I know most of political leaders are corrupted and cannot be trusted, and The Maoist are the wrost kind in this category. Dahal and Bhattrai, both should be in jail instead of living in lavish mansions.      

16. Gunju Giri
It is rather shocking see these seemingly popular journalists, taking sides, and reporting only one sides news. To start with, none of the national news papers wrote anything about the day where an entire family of King Birendra was finished. Of course, Shah dynasty was not always noble, which is practically imposable, but at least they gave what we call Nepal - otherwise we would either Indian or Chinese 3rd class citizens! Wake up Mr. & Mrs. intelligents, try to appreciate historical facts... And just answer, current useless 601, why is Sujata's son-in-law good for you while Gyanendra's son villain? Can you let people understand it? You don't you care about Nepal's founding fathers, but you  lake lecture about Western philosophers? Why?
I don't care what politics you like, but don't play like a little beggar with foreign powers, and try to erase the History. All are so called top leaders are guilty on this, but Maoists dictators are the worse... what to say about 601, they just wanted earn money... they had so much jealousy that in the pas only Monarchy had the privileged (though in reality the same leaders who are now 'truely' republicans were the ones to rip off the country). The point here is that there is nothing to be sad about the death of 601 discussion; that was never going to last first because of its sheer numbers, and second because it was an attempt to copy foreign ideologies that are sold by forgiveness. what short-sighted political didn't realise that their opportunistic behaviour would one day become poison for themselves i.e. they can survive in government until their donors get what wanted, or else collapse. Kangresi and Emale have already become the most corrupt and humiliated parties, but soon the Maoist dictators will meet the same fate, after all they come to power by killing and Indian money... for their smaller parties, they do anything as long as they get money.... Hence we are in a doomsday scenario, where Nepali are only taught to cheat, hate, or even kill each other; not make a peaceful future.
The one way forward to save Nepal and Nepali identity is only by what Japan did after the World War II, do everything to save linguistic and cultural identities of all Nepali, prevent foreign, especially Western consumerism behaviours, but do everything to bring Japanese or Western sort of Economic growth. In particular, political parties should forget absolute ideologies of 'lal salam' Communism or Indian Kangres... there should be purely NEPALI politics based on Local realities - all Nepalese who love their motherland dearly must be able to reshape this country, or else, we will be either Sikkim or Tibet... So, intelligent media personalities, don't give us foreign cra* but only what is best for Nepal from within Nepal!
Let's learn to live by taking to acccount of Nepali history, jai Hos!

17. Sheila Pradhan
I think all the various other so called fringe political parties should unite into one big Nepali Janata Party ! That only makes sense ! Then this big combined big party can challange the Maoist, UML, Madhises and Kangresis.  The leaders of UML, NC, MADESH  PARTIES, they are too comfortable. No is really taking the fight to them. Its always united we stand, so unite fringe parties. Until the day comes, when Nepalis get rid UML, NC, MADESH  PARTIES, NOTHING WILL CHANGE . Its kind of like the 2 party system in USA, DEMS and REPUBLICANS. Only these 2 party share power in America and they will not allow an Independent Party or candidate in the picture. So, we must teach all the so called Netas in power for the last 22 years a lesson to remember. Nepal is suffering today because we have criminals in charge, so the choice is clear, get rid of the Netas or put up and shut up.     

18. DG
better to rein in hell than to serve in heaven.

19. Raul Nepali
# 14 Gurung

' another bahun for cushy job ' what an intellectual comment. No wonder so many are working abroad for pennies. You can join British Army I am sure bahuns will not complain.

20. biku
just to let a guy here know that monarchy is not a solution but its for sure that we need a shepherd for all us sheep nature like people.

21. Gita Sherchan
Its a murder of the CA, not death Mr. Dixit. A cold blooded muder. A premeitated muder. A muder plannded 4 years ago, the day C A was founded. Pushpa Dahal never had a good intention to bring the Constitution. Mr. Dixit, please write like it is, expose the Maoist killers for what they are. Nepalis need to join hands and drive out the communist for ever. Enough murder of innocent citizens, enough loot of Nepal's treasury, come on aren't we all tired of Dahal and Bhattari. The leaders of all political parties must pay back. We must demand justice in the name of 17 thousands that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Pushpa Dahal has ruined Nepal, Nepal's prestige and image, Nepal's economy, Nepali people's hopes, dreams and aspirations. He must be punished for this henieous crime. Let the murder of CA be the turning point to set Nepal in the right direction and regain our lost Glory.  Jai Nepal.       

22. Jyoti Subedi
This time the leaders in Kathmandu must pay dearly. These egotistical and moronic leaders have gotten away with a lot in the past. But this time, they will pay. Nepalis have suffered for too long under the corrupted governments and corrupted leaders. ONLY THE LEADERS HAVE GOTTEN RICH AND LIVE IN BIG HOUSES. The rest of Nepal suffers, people sleep on the streets of Kathmandu. How can we tolerate that. If the poor Nepalis did not go to foreign lands and send money to Nepal, the economy will collapse. What have the leaders done for Nepal. We must take REVENGE. The 11 male Bahuns and 1 male Newar must answer to the people. Why is Gachaddhar, after the muder of the  judge still in office.  Gachaddhar must be held resonsible for this killing. He must answer to the public for he is a SERVANT of the public. Why is uncouth Baburam still in office. This is the example of our Netas. Are not Nepalis sick and tired of them and their blatant lies.  

23. Jai Krishna Rana
The C A is dead ! Now Communism also must die in Nepal. Communist are violent and they only know how to kill. The biggest backers of Assad in Syria are the two Communist Giants, Russia and China. Children are being slaughtered in Syria and the Communist dont give a crap. So do we really want these communist in Nepal. UML and Maoist, followers of Lenin and Mao, mass murderers, why are Nepalis not sick of these communist after 20 years. That is a million dollar question. 

24. gurung
Quote - ' another bahun for cushy job ' what an intellectual comment. No wonder so many are working abroad for pennies. You can join British Army I am sure bahuns will not complain. - Unquote

British army? You must be kidding. Most of the Nepalis work in petty jobs abroad as labourers, maids, helps to eke out a mere living while HIGH CASTE, yes HIGH CASTE live off their billions of remittances. I would REQUEST all the nepalis working abroad not to send their monies to NEPALI BANKS, esp GOVERNMENT RUN BANKS.

Let' see how long Nepali politicians, bureaucrats,  survive.

25. who cares
24. gurung

europeans, british army treated nepalese (has been treating) as bad as nepalese ruler did.

you dont have problem with them, but you have problem with nepalese ruler, why? is it cause they pay you more. 

and have not we kicked past rulers for their crime against nepalese. why do you want to punish nepal for their crime? why disintegration?

may be its time for you to fight europeans since war in nepal has already been won. 

26. dhedu badar
You blamed KG and the institution of monarchy for everything that went wrong at one time. Then you started and still continue blaming the very maoists whom you had put in a pedestal at one time for the purpose of degrading the monarchy. The cahoot of "intellectuals" that you belong to, (in tandem with the Indian voice) worked to drown the few voices that were raised claiming that the Moaists were never serious about the new constitution and everything they did was mere propaganda to forward their cause. Now you cry over spilled milk! And moreover complain that the cat pushed the milk bottle off the table!  You were one of them, who worked hard to get the dog out of the room,  claiming that the cat was now trained and would sit quietly behaving itself. Now the dog is out and the cat has managed to spill the milk, now cry all you want and watch as it drinks it too. 

27. sangeet sangroula
Like Dixit has stated, NC and CPN-UML should try their best to avoid the re-election of constitution assembly (CA). In spite of that the up forming consensus government should go for the election of parliament. As mention by Dixit, the government should form the committee which will draft the constitution and submit to the parliament. And further making necessary amendment, it should be promulgated in the country to avoid constitutional crisis. It is only the way to gain peace and prosperity otherwise the same drama which we say since 4 years is likely to get re telecast.     

28. H.Zollinger
Reading the comments show typical Nepali thinking and behaviour, blaming each other doesn't bring a solution. I have been severly assaulted and attacked several times in towns and countryside in Nepal for nothing. Nepalis are used to solve problems with force, they are not used to compromise. Do not blame the leaders, the others, rather blame yourself, having had too high expectations.

29. Krishna S.
I think someone's hit a bulls eye!!!

30. Samjhana

Kanak concludes: ''It would provide a draft constitution to the Parliament which would be debated and adopted within six months to a year...'''

I just wonder why he did not go far enough and say that any consitution must be endrosed by a was done in Kenya a few years before and have been done in other countries.

The civil society needs to make this their new demand.......shall we have a band on this for the next few days!!!! 

31. Samjhana
Dear diplomats of the the US,UK& NATO/Scandivian countries ............... ....when are you taking the likes of Dahal and Baburam to the ICC in the Hauge. Instead of supporitng these political parties and animials in might need now to consider taking them to the you have done to Charles Taylor. Nepal might not have oil and minirals as in Liberia, Sirrea Leone, Kenya or Sudan ....but you owe it the Human Rights principles that you all swear by and preach.

32. Budabaaje

We've already wasted 4 years on this chimera of a 'new constitution'. A false promise and empty dream that the likes of Kanak Dixit helped promote and bring the Maoists into power. The foolishness of that is now bare open for all to see.

Let's not be even more foolish now. Out with this pointless 'new constitution' crap. REVIVE THE 1990 CONSTITUTION! Bring back the Monarchy! That, and only that, will teach these politicians a smacking lesson and only that will bring the Nepali polity back into track. Failure cannot be rewarded with endless chances!!

33. Prakash Thapa
Bring back the 1990 Constitution. The dirty politicians of Nepal must pay.  I agree with Budabaaje. Revive the Monarchy. Dahal can go to Nakhu from Lazimapat.  I wonder why ex K Gyanendra is so silent and passive. Its time to go to war with these lying and cheating, filthy politicians for they are destroying Nepal. Baburam Bhattarai should be flogged in public for selling out to  the Indians. The Chettris need unite and head out to the battlefield. Let the war begin from today. We cannot let a few greedy men to play with millions of Nepali's lives.  Do not believe one word from Bhattarai or Dahal and most important do not believe the Indians. India has been and will be  an enemy of all its neighbours.     

34. nep
#14 gurung stop it wid the race thing dude

35. nep
referendum in country wid more than 50 precent of the population illeterate ,ha! u ppl must be kiddin

36. Nirmal


Then anything like general or local elections would be meaningless If one has to judge the ability of the population to decide what is good for them through your lens. If a literacy campaign could decrease the large number of illiterates then why not an healthy campaign over the contents of a referendum could make people aware of what is at stake. I think people like you and kanak mani dixit has always undermined the people's capacity to decide in name of consensus made between few more when you know that the netas have arrived nowhere. No one has anyright to prolong a negociation which doesnot bear fruits even in 4 years of time.


37. Shital Raj
Only  maoist can not  be blamed  for  the  failure  of CA.  What   the hell , the  rest  of  so called ,  elected  and  selected party members did during the  four  year period in CA. We people have recorded evidence of yaning and gossiping members in CA.. Outside  of CA, they have not done a single effort  to  be organize  them self to  be  superimposed  and  overruled  the  CA  by running  so called negociating meeting, in fivestar hotel and  resorts. We people  know  the  last 14 jestha  drama  staged  by the CA members. to  diverse the  blame  of  people by soughting slogans. This is  only  crocodile,s  tear sheded  to save them.

38. B

I don't agree that the CA itself was a disaster. Just go look what the thematic committees came up with to see the good work that was being done. The disaster part in the CA was in its design and mandate, in the power that it was given as compared to the executive. A mandate of two years ensured a weak CA. Once its popular legitimacy lapsed after the expiration of its given mandate, all parties could use it as they wished.

The leaders in the Maoists sidelined the CA, but the NC and UML were no different. Let's go back to when the CA was created. The Maoists demanded a CA, while the parties demanded Maoist disarmament. If the Maoists used the CA to get access to the state, the parties used the CA to weaken the power of the Maoists. Maybe both had nice intentions to bring about political transformation, but they ensured the CA's failure by conceiving it as a bargaining chip in their unresolved power games.

It has been far too easy for Nepal's Prime Ministers to dissolve the legislature. Remember the disaster that followed the last death of parliament? Influential Nepalis like Kanak Dixit should use this interregnum to lobby for a strong legislature. Elect a parliament and let it run a course of five years and don't give the prime minister the ability to dissolve parliament. The parliament is the only body which has direct legitimacy from the populace. The Supreme Court or the President can never have the kind of legitimate oversight of the executive that the legislature can.

Look at Nepal now: it is already being run by directives or "ordinances." Even with a national unity government, it will be a government of the unelected, and the country will still be run by diktat. To ensure this kind of vacuum never occurs again, let's lobby for a more powerful parliament and a Prime Minister's Office with less power. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)