Excerpts from an interview with Taranath Ranabhat, speaker of the House of Representatives in the Deuba government.
Is there a way out of the present constitutional and political turmoil?
The constitution can be made active only by restoring the House of Representatives. The state cannot run democratically without a parliament. At present, everything from law reforms to budget announcements happen through royal directives. This is undemocratic. The country cannot go on like this. Elections are the only way out. There must be unity between the parties and the king.
Why wasn't it possible to restore the parliament?
Sher Bahadur Deuba should have recommended the reinstatement of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so. The king cannot restore the parliament. The power rested in the hands of the prime minister.
Are elections even possible under the present circumstances?
If elections help establish a people's representative, then it is still possible. The government must create an environment where the party and the candidates can reach out to the masses and find a way for voters to register their choices easily. There seems little possibility that this government will see it through.
What about the Maoists?
Peace talks must begin before the elections. The Maoists have to be convinced that their victory is not possible with guns. The security forces should be mobilised to make the Maoists come to the table. We should not gear the situation towards victory or defeat by engaging the two armies. No matter who dies or gets defeated, we are all Nepalis.
Do you think the political parties will forsake their movement for elections?
First of all, it is necessary to reach an understanding between the king and the parties. I made a plea with the king recently. I also met Girija on the same issue. The prime minister is the king's closest advisor who is also accountable to the people. He must make the first move. But it seems like he is the main person behind the present problem. On the other hand, Thapa's government has adopted a strong strategy to control the parties' movement.
And what is the king's role in the compromise?
The party leaders should sit down with the king and reach a consensus. They should stop being stubborn.
Why haven't you participated in the ongoing movement?
I have certain limits as a Speaker. Moreover, I played my own role in finding a solution to the present political problem. It is unnecessary to go to Ratna Park armed with stones.