The Nepali Congress has always stood for constitutional monarchy. Why did you propose a constituent assembly at a meeting of the party's central working committee?
Proposing a constituent assembly does not necessarily mean deposing the constitutional monarchy. The Nepali Congress has stood for a constitutional monarchy since its inception, but it also recognises that the constituent assembly is a tool of government. Proposing a constituent assembly does not in theory or in practice amount to ending the monarchy.
Are you saying that the king's move has created a constitutional vacuum?
Yes. We believe that the spirit of the constitution was killed when the monarch crossed the limits set by the constitution, and acted according to an interpretation of convenience. Only reviving parliament can rectify these blunders. If the Deuba government was dismissed for its incompetence and inability to hold elections, the present government should have set a date in the next six months for elections. The only way out is to restore parliament or hold elections for a fresh parliament. Right now a non-constitutional force is running the country.
Wasn't the constitution violated even before the royal move when the parties recommended postponing elections?
That's no reason for a constitutional monarchy to violate the constitution. Political parties should take part of the blame, because they created the background for 4 October. The all-party meeting was indecisive, but it directed the prime minister to find a solution within the constitution. The royal address may have promised a solution, but this has only added to the confusion.
Do you think a restored parliament would be a legal entity? And as for the constituent assembly, it could take years, as in India, [to frame a new constitution]. Wouldn't that help the Maoists?
It's not about who will take advantage, but about getting out of this mess. And restoring parliament is not the end, but a means to a solution. A constituent assembly might still be important even if parliament is restored. Otherwise, we should start working on other solutions, and elections should be held soon. The Maoists were the main reason the elections were postponed. A constituent assembly may take three or four years to work, but we need to be mentally prepared, if we want it to bear fruit earlier...
You're perceived as being quite critical of the monarchy.
I hope the monarchy is always popular, but I wish it would keep up with the times. An absolute monarchy was made a constitutional one in 1990, and the Nepali Congress respects that status. But 4 October violated the spirit of the constitution. If the monarchy takes over and tries to retain the executive power, it will be criticised.
How do you evaluate the performance of the present government?
This government does not have constitutional status. Technically, it is a body that oversees the daily functions of government; executive power lies with the monarch. In the month since it was instituted, there have been no signs about what it plans to do and where it it heading. The Deuba government was said to be a failure because it did not set election dates, but the present government hasn't given any indication that elections will take place at all.