Nepali Times
Guest Column
Point of no return



In the last few days, Nepali politics has become tangled and unpredictable. Clarity is the first casualty in the maze that this final run-up to the constitutional deadline has become.

The political parties and their leaders are reactive, setting their agenda on the basis of what they believe are the strategies of opponents within and outside their parties. Overlapping interests and tactics have meant that they have lost sight about what all this is supposed to be about: constitution-writing and concluding the peace process. It is time for them to sit back and look at themselves in perspective, see how far we have come since the 12-point understanding and assess the historical changes this nation has gone through.

Politics in Nepal has changed for the better. Not everyone will accept that, but if you think deeper, it is true. In spite of everything, the political transformation of the past three years cannot be underestimated. A 250-year old Hindu kingdom became a progressive, secular republic, which gives 33 per cent representation to women and recognises rights of the marginalised. That is a tremendous step forward for a country that was steeped in feudalism and until recently was in the throes of a bloody war. The current standoff among the parties is to a great extent about claiming ownership of this change.

When it comes to hard political bargaining, each party is very careful about how much it is willing to concede to its opponents. So there is a 'marriage of convenience' which is exposed when you get to the nitty-gritty. Loktantra, for instance, means different things to different parties. Similarly, there is a debate between the NC and the Maoists regarding the right to private property and land reform. But, to be honest, there isn't much of a gap between the two on a liberalised economy, with the debate only on the modalities of implementation.

The least of all problems between the two parties is an ideological conflict. The parties have progressed from dogmatism, and the tussle is more about power-sharing. There is fear among NC leaders about the growing leftist influence in the country. So, the slogan of the "threat of left-wing dictatorship" propagated by the party is more to consolidate its own political sphere of influence than an actual perceived threat. Similarly,having decided to lay down their guns the Maoists need as much political influence to build a strong public support base.

The strong rhetoric that is flying around just reflects the effort by both sides to enhance their bargaining positions. Remember, the situation was just the reverse last year, and the Maoists were able to pressurise Madhav Nepal to resign as a condition for extension. But the bottom line is this: everyone wants an extension because these are political actors and they understand very well that politics does not operate in a vacuum.

The government's 46-week work schedule is actually another way to say 'one year'. The first 12 weeks is proposed for completing the peace process, which can be completed sooner if there is agreement among the parties. The debate about the system of governance will be intense and it will take several rounds of meetings before the parties come up with a compromise formula acceptable to all. But if everybody agrees on the UML's proposal of the French model, then the debate can be resolved overnight.

Same is true with the nature of federalism, and the kind of electoral system. There can easily be a politically acceptable compromise if the parties climb down to reality from their populist posturing. The time frame is neither strictly in line with the proposed schedule, nor is it overstated. Even agreeing on a proposed timeframe is a positive indication.

The political parties must have learned in the last three years that they cannot operate as if this is politics-as-usual. Nepal is still in transition, when the rules are different. It demands compromise, decisions by consensus and sobriety, not populist sloganeering on the streets. We have to return to the spirit of the 12-point agreement and forge that consensus again to complete the task at hand in the extended timeframe.

Prof. Krishna Khanal is the director at Center for Constitutional Dialogue.

Read also:
The midnight hour, ANURAG ACHARYA
Feeling crabby?, RABI THAPA
The games they play, ANURAG ACHARYA

1. Naresh Neupane
 We have to return to the spirit of the 12-point agreement and forge that consensus again to complete the task at hand in the extended timeframe.
- Ironically, My friends used to say such lines some one and half years ago, who are far from knowing what professor of political science does, let alone becoming the one.

The strong rhetoric that is flying around just reflects the effort by both sides to enhance their bargaining positions. 
It has been the cue if you take into account the post 1990 politics. The only difference is the mishap of CA deadline. 

Politics in Nepal has changed for the better
It is so patronizing that you elicit such responses in account that the current leaderships took the widest berth, and 'so changed then existing circumstances for the better'. If the country goes federal (so the PHDs and professors claim), is there any guarantee that, if not played safe, it will surely be better than it would otherwise hitherto be?

Nepali politics has become tangled and unpredictable.
It seems you've at least failed to predict in the past that it'll be unpredictable.
What hogwash?

 Even agreeing on a proposed timeframe is a positive indication.
A new Kindergarten poem could be:
 Twinkle Twinkle, Gossamer Gossamer
Fly unto thy wonderland, me, the wunderkind ...
I'm not so pessimist that next time you'd not repeat some hangovers and cliches.

2. Raghu

Politics in Nepal has changed for the better

Maybe for the party leaders & 601 good for nothing members

-We have to stay in line for hours to get petrol whereas they get their monthly ration for free.

-Security in the country has collasped while they and set their goons free in case the police arrest them.

-We have stay in queue whole day to get passport where as they sell theirs to the highest bidder.

-We cannot go to office or school due to bands whereas they get cars for free and hold dicussion at resorts.

The list is endless.



3. Dinesh Gautam

When i read this, i was kind of surprised to see NGO jargons in it, and when i read his current position, then i was like, oh really.

So, our professor now has become a director of an organisation that organises an immense number of "bhaate meetings" and at the end delivers nothing..I am sure he wouldnt have written to Nepali Times an article like this, if he was not a director of CCD. He knows NT is mostly read by expats - who fund CCD. So, it is not about writing what he feels but writing to make his funders happy.

However, this is how it works in this person can not change everything - so better to join a bandwagon.

4. gopi
If there is an extension, it's people like Krishna Khanal (this writer) and Krishna Hacchethu and others of their ilk who will make all the money, consulting for donors who will then pour millions of dollars into their vacuous governance and democracy strengthening projects. There are consultants who need the CA extension more than the CA members.  

5. Kedar Nath Gorkhali
Mr. Krishna Khanal, just cut the CRAP. OK. Are you related to Jhala Nath. You sound like his mouthpiece.  Nepal has 3 Deputy P Ms.  The CA has 601 lawmakers.  What a huge burden. People are suffering due to lack of job,  lack of health care, lack of education, lack of electricity, lack of water. So, I say to you Mr. Khanal, just shut up and cut the crap. I would love to meet you in a dark alley so that you could be taught a lesson. Do you catch the drift.  Remember, there will be no impunity any longer. Everything you say and do, you are being watched. So, once again, Mr. Khanal, just cut the crap, OK.     

6. who cares
who will loose when the CA is dead?

* maoist: they will no longer get an opportunity to take credit for the constitution drafted by this CA. if there is an election for another CA, it wont be seen as the child of maoist.

maoist will no longer be the largest party.

maoist will no longer get the edge.

and so on.

* daichura like jhallu ram and others in uml, and other maoist agents will be in loosing side.

alternative to CA:

* fresh CA election. (i do not support this one, it will get face faith).

* referendum- 10% mps getting to draft one option each of every dhara sara of constitution and nepalese choosing it. first election to choose top 5 then top 2 then final passed by majority.

* constitution through experts, referendum. 

* re-instating the CA is a joke (which was mentioned by one media).

what next?

* smooth transaction would be all party govt.
here, all will battle for leadership, pm, and then president will have to choose neutral character from public figure.

* if they say, president does not have right to take over then army comes into the play.   .. ha ha.. even worst for maosit and co. 

maoist simply dont have any idea what they will loose after loosing this CA, they are weak militarily, internationally, public support wise, most of the public blame them for the CA not able to draft constitution,  mentally empty, geneva is waiting for them...

they simply dont have ground under them to go for revolt which one of their idiots called baidya has beeen dreaming. 

           i say                      KILL CA

7. saru
Now, CA is extended but we are sure that CA will not be able to draft any constitutions because many issue to be resolved was flawed from the beginning. I.E question over Federalism, Monarchy,  religion was not on agenda when so called Jana Andolan was started and so called 12 point agreement was drafted first in Hindi in India and translated in Nepali. No politician dared to go for referendum in this issue because most of them are paid or patronized by former colonial power like U.K and Neo colonist like Indian, Switzerland, Denmark, EU. Until these fundamental issue is resolved by referendum once and for all time till then this three or four year hiatus is just prelude to coming of bigger disaster for Nepal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)