Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Revive parliament

The pro-palace component in the government talks about elections. This is just a smokescreen to continue to obstruct the implementation of the constitution. The propagandist side of the Maoists advocates a constituent assembly. This too, is nothing more than a word game.

Both sides know that there will be no election or constituent assembly without peace talks. In fact, the royalists do not want elections and the followers of Prachandapath are not for constituent assembly. Both want the state power system. If any of them win or strike a deal for power sharing, the possibility of the country holding a democratic election either for the parliament or the constituent assembly is nil. How can we expect peace, democracy and the restoration of the people's power from both forces under such circumstances?

Both know that without proper implementation of the constitution, talks will not take place. Followers of Prachandapath say, "We do not support the idea of reinstating parliament, we will not allow elections to take place and will not speak to any nominated government." Royalists say, "We will not allow the reinstatement of parliament and we will not revive the constitution."

Like the Prachandapath followers, they have been harping about being flexible for talks. One party says it is ready to talk on anything but multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy. The other claims to be revolutionarily representing the people but is not ready to reactivate the constitution. What kind of flexibility is this? How can talks be held and between whom? And, more importantly, how will they bring peace?

The prime minister has repeatedly said on state-run television that the House of Representatives can't be reinstated because of the verdict of the Supreme Court. A group that is pro-military, royalist and propagandist and another that belongs to the Maoist camp have both been taking undue support of the apex court's verdict. The Supreme Court has found it difficult to guard its own integrity in the absence of parliament since the Robinson episode. It has remained silent even when official agencies have wrongly pointed out that after the Supreme Court's verdict it has become difficult to bring the constitution back on track. Should it not have countered that there was never a decision saying the House of Representatives can't be reinstated? Even if it deems that such defence of its integrity is unnecessary, it should have resorted to judicial activism.

If the Supreme Court can't take a stand at a time when the derailed constitutional process needs to be normalised for peace, when will it? For the rest of the political spectrum, the question is not whether parliament can be reinstated. It is whether the hurdles to implementing constitutional provisions will lessen or increase after the reinstatement of the House.

Will the House be able to actually meet if reactivated? If it can, should it be made to decide the solution to the present conflict? Should democratic normalisation be allowed? The parliament is a meeting point among political parties, government and the people, between people's representatives and the king. Such contacts are the need of the hour, whether for peace, amendment of the old constitution, or for drafting a new one.

We hear about the need for unity among constitutional forces, more so between the king, government and parties. Only when all provisions of the constitution begin to function normally can one believe that the derailed constitution can be brought back on track. How can there be constitutional unity without an active constitution?

Such a dialogue can be held in parliament and the result ratified by the parliament. Only then can we go for elections, whether it is the election of the House of Representatives or the constituent assembly and on whatever basis. But for these to happen, the House of Representatives must be activated. Without the House, talks about peace, elections, constituent assembly and democracy will remain talks.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)