Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Only solution- constituent assembly

There has been a sharp polarisation of views among royalists, parliamentarians and the Maoists. All three powers have changed character. The power of the king is becoming more concrete-many feel it is regressive. Looking at the situation following the royal declaration on 4 October, the pro-parliamentary powers appear to be playing a more democratic role. But their party interests have become narrower. Rather than looking for a way out of this crisis, parliamentary powers are intent on fulfilling their own agendas.

The role of the Maoists, who have emerged as the third power, is also changing. A party that has managed to mobilise the public to a great extent, cannot make such an abrupt U-turn. If a solution to the current crisis cannot be found then the three-point power equation will be reduced to a two-point power equation. Who will benefit in the end remains to be seen. Regarding the monarchy, the Nepali people respected the king and held him in certain esteem. But given the changing circumstances and based on the role the monarchy played in the past, the king cannot expect this to continue unquestionably.

Parliamentary elections, Article 128, a plebiscite, whatever we talk about-the sole truth is that the present constitution has failed. What can we expect from a constitution that is unable to provide solutions to the political crisis?

It is now necessary to draft a new constitution. In the past 12 years there were complaints that the king was not given his proper place. But in the past year and a half, the king has sought his place. So, it's foolish to think that the royal declaration on 4 October was the outcome of the current crisis. Rather, it's the materialisation of the palace's wish to seek a more definite role. If the political parties are unable to keep the people happy, then we can't ignore the rise of an alternative power. If the Maoists lay down their arms and remain powerful, who can stop them?

The solution to the current crisis is a constituent assembly. How can you talk about the sovereignty of the people but not allow a sovereign people to exercise their fundamental rights? Many say this is the Maoist agenda, but that is not true. A constituent assembly should be the demand of all democrats. The Maoists should take part in the constituent assembly without arms. This has to be made clear to them. But people should not think of what will happen if the Maoists win, or if someone else wins. Their views should not be coloured by political gains. What is important-the good of the people-should be kept in mind.

An assembly must be that of elected representatives. Those who say individuals can be nominated to the assembly are undermining the importance of the assembly, they are reducing its worth. If the democrats, instead of the Maoists, demanded a republic, it would be a bigger challenge for the state. The state cannot fight against democracy. Whoever believes in democracy has to be in favour of a constituent assembly. It has to be given greater importance. The people must look for a solution to the current crisis. And there is only one solution-a constituent assembly.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)