MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
So it has come down to this: the fourth extension of the Constituent Assembly. The people's elected representatives have agreed to buy themselves more time to finish writing the constitution because their leaders have been too busy preventing each other from getting to power.
The passage of the 11th amendment to the interim constitution tabled by the government on Thursday is delayed because the parties haven't yet decided by how long to extend the CA. The first extension was for a year in 2009, then it was extended for six months and then in August by three months.
The NC is embroiled in an internal dispute and couldn't decide on the length of the extension this time. Meanwhile, the UML central committee meeting decided to consult other parties about the extension period. The party is divided over whether to ask for Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's resignation to pave the way for a consensus government.
"The CA term extension depends on progress made on the peace and constitution and government performance," said the NC's Deep Kumar Upadhya.
There has been progress on the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters, and a State Restrucuring Commission was formed this week to address the most contentious issue about the kind of federalism the country should have.
Put together, these moves give the parties the fig leaf with which to allay public opposition to another extension. With another extension by Wednesday, the term of the CA will have been four years although it was elected initially for a two year mandate.
Now, the constitution
Divided we stand, ANURAG ACHARYA
Maoist ideologues now realise they underestimated the perils of stirring the ethnic pot