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Where to now?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The political parties extended the CA term averting potential collective suicide from the dissolution of the house on Sunday but they are already at each other’s throat. So much for the consensus politics.

Maoist leader Deb Gurung criticised his party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal for signing the 5 point deal without consulting his party on Monday. “The issue of resignation of the Prime Minister was never discussed in the party,” he said and was of opinion that the current government should conclude the peace and constitution writing process.

Nepali Congress leader Minendra Rijal expressed his doubts about implementation of the deal on the part of the Maoists. “We are yet to see how sincere they are about what they say,” he said. Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal ,meanwhile expressed bitterness over the resignation
issue on the state owned media. He said, “some political parties had threatened to separate from the state if their demands were not fulfilled but we cannot let the achievement made so far in the peace process and constitution writing go wasted over small issues.”

There three parties are consistent regarding the ‘resignation of the Prime Minister to pave way for a national consensus’ but nobody has expressed clearly how to go about it. Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha has made it clear that the prime minister will not resign until the next arrangement is in place. NC leader Shekhar Koirala and UML leader Bamdev Gautam too said that Khanal would not step down until the political parties come up with a clear roadmap for formation of a national unity government first.

It is undeniable that there is a need of national consensus government to conclude the peace process and writing the constitution by the CA. But since there is no agreement yet on who would lead the next government, media speculation is rife.

Nepali Congress has not expressed desire for leading the government officially and president Shushil Koirala has publicly said that his party would give the premiership to Dahal if he moved the PLA integration process.

As the largest party in the parliament, the Maoists deserve to lead the government. But the other parties do not want to hand over the government to a party with its own army and weapons. The Maoists on the other hand are reluctant to hand over the weapons to the state because they fear their bargaining power.

There is also a debate about the number of combatants to be integrated. NC has been saying the integration should be done on basis of ‘one person per weapon’ but the Maoists are pushing for maximum number of integration.

In the end the number might tentatively come between six to eight thousands. Of late, India also has appeared soft towards the Maoists. In an interview with BBC Nepali Service, KV Rajan said that India has no problem with the Maoists leading the government and “that the ball is now on the Maoists’ court”. However the overnight split in Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Nepal) and coincidental presence of a senior RAW official in the capital last week suggests that India has quietly been securing its hand.With joining of the MJF splinter, MJF (Republic), Madhesi alliance now has 71 seats in the CA. It bargained hard during the talks by threatening to resign collectively from the CA forcing the big three parties to agree with
their demand of en mass recruitment of Madhesi people into Nepal Army.

Although the CA committees have resumed the task of drafting constitution from Monday, the political parties have not started the task of regrouping the PLA or any integration process because they have neither fully agreed on a particular modality of integration nor communicated with the Nepal Army regarding the en masse recruitment of the Madhesis in the Nepal Army. But the three months deadline means that the parties will find themselves pressed against double edged sword.


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