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Black day

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

After four years of trying to draft the constitution, Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, has been dissolved before it could accomplish its mission. The largest representative body in the nation’s history has ceased to exist at midnight on Sunday.IMG_9659

While the NC and UML point fingers at the Maoists and the Madhesis, the Maoists blame the older parties for their refusal to address identity issues. The three major parties and the Madhesi Front could neither forge consensus on thorny issues, nor agreed to table them in the CA. It is a mockery of democracy that the representative body was dissolved even without  being convened on the fateful day. The agitated lawmakers kept urging the party leaders to convene the meeting all evening in vain. At 10:30 PM, the top leaders leaders in Singha Durbar stated in the media that the CA meeting would not be convened after which the dejected CA members left the premises. “We have been humiliated by our own leaders”, an NC lawmaker was giving his statement to a television channel.

Standing in one corner of the CA building, long after the last CA member had left, was Dalit lawmaker Bishwendra Paswan (pic). ” I just don’t feel like leaving “, he said in a choked voice. “There are 15 people in my house now, there are people back in the village, all waiting for the good news. What will i tell them?”, worries Paswan who believed until the final hour that the parties would come up with a last minute compromise. He also told us that most of the CA committee members had completed the works that had been assigned to them and the delay was only due to the top leaders of major parties .

Outside the CA building I met Surya Bahadur Ranabhat from Syangja, who had come to Kathmandu four days ago to participate in the historical celebrations. “I spent thousands of rupees on travelling, food and lodging  thinking it was worth the moment of celebration.”, he told me. But turning away to leave in his wheelchair, he said dryly “I don’t want to vote again.”

Around fifteen hundred police personnel deployed in the area for the last two days could be seen lying down tired after hard day’s work, or listening to the radio. As the Prime Minister’s address to the nation began around midnight, i sat next one such group of Armed Force personnel listening. After the address, one of them suggested : “I hear they have spent 9 billions from the state coffers, why don’t you people demand that they return tax payers’ money, now that they have failed to do what they were hired for?”

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, in his address blamed ‘status quoist’ forces for stalling the statute drafting and announced fresh elections on 22 November. He appealed to the people to participate in the next elections in large numbers to elect a party which supports forward looking policies. But the NC and UML along with Upendra Yadav led Greater Madhesi Front have expressed their dissatisfaction over unilateral declaration of  the elections, calling it unconstitutional and asked the President not to endorse government decision. They insist that in absence of the CA, the government ceases to exist and have requested the President to form a national unity government which would then hold elections.

The nation may or may not go for elections in the next six months, but 27 May will always be remembered as a black day in Nepal’s history.

Anurag Acharya

Updated on May 28, 2012 @ 02 : 00 AM

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