13-19 June 2014 #711

Pause, play, repeat

Consensus politics is critical given Nepal's deeply fractured polity, but losers can't always be choosers
Trishna Rana
For 12 days, parliamentarians in Baneswor held the floor of the Constituent Assembly hostage to put pressure on the government to agree to their demands.

From the sidelines, the Kamal Thapa led RPP-N and Madhes-based parties accused the NC-led government of corruption during end of the year budget transfers, while the UCPN (Maoist) lead the charge with its unrelenting call to fulfill the four-point deal that the three major parties signed in December last year.

The agreement included: completing a draft of the new constitution within six months and passing it within one year, setting up a parliamentary panel to investigate alleged fraud during the November 2013 elections, forming a High Level Political Committee (HLPC) to conclude the peace process, and establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Parliamentary proceedings finally resumed on Wednesday after the Maoists were duly appeased.

As CA-2 moves closer to discussing issues that are paramount to the future of the country, a separate power centre in the form of a HLPC to be led solely by Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal provides an opportunity for the Maoists to position themselves as kingmakers once again.

And now that the TRC bill has been tabled in parliament, the HLPC will also allow Dahal & Co to mould the future commission to their liking and rein in the debate surrounding transitional justice with the ultimate aim of giving perpetrators on both sides a clean chit.

The Maoists' importunate demand to revive this undemocratic mechanism, however, is further proof of their inability to play by the rules and unwillingness to accept the humiliating loss at the polls. If Nepalis really wanted the UCPN (M) to lead from the front, the party wouldn't find itself in third place with only 80 seats in the Assembly. While consensus politics is critical given Nepal's deeply fractured polity, losers can't always be choosers.

With a little over six months to go before CA-2's mandate expires, other parties cannot afford to put the parliament on hold whenever they please either. They must find different recourses in order to have their grievances addressed. Political leaders squandered two months following elections because they couldn't finalise their proportional representation lists. The 601-strong CA is still 26 members short because parties cannot come to an agreement on how to divide up the seats, and we are running out of time fast.

There is, however, some good news on the constitution writing front. After almost two weeks of deliberating over state restructuring and distribution of power, the Constitutional Records Study and Determination Committee on Tuesday forwarded its report to the Constitution Drafting Committee, while issues that required further debate were handed to the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee.

Disagreements between parties over the exact number of federal states still remain, but at least leaders are looking far more flexible and open to compromise than they were in 2012. Maybe they have finally realised that there will be no third chance. The Maoists and Baburam Bhattarai in particular, who heads the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee, now have a real chance of redeeming themselves in front of ordinary Nepalis if Bhattarai can steer away his committee members from political brinkmanship and deliver a clear proposal on how the future map of Nepal will look like.  

Read also:

The 'f' word again, Editorial

To do list, Editorial

Wrong mechanism, Editorial

The tale of two commissions Binita Dahal

Post-mortem of a defeat Muma Ram Khanal

Sore losers Trishna Rana

Back to square zero Trishna Rana

Communist cacophony Trishna Rana

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