Nepal is in a very crucial political stage. The present CPN-UML – UCPN-Maoist coalition government led by Jhalanath Khanal unilaterally registered an amendment bill in the Legislature Parliament seeking a one-year extension to the tenure of Constituent Assembly and Legislature Parliament. CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist coalition even did not consult with opposition Nepali Congress. This unilateral move of ruling coalition indicated that they want to amend the constitution by two thirds majority which they believe is in their hands. If they just think the tenure is extended by counting two thirds vote, it will invite a major disaster in the country. Even if they extend the tenure by two thirds, it will neither help to write the new constitution nor bring the peace process to a logical end. I am clear that these parties do not have any intention to write the new constitution. There is no provision in the Interim Constitution for the extension of tenure in normal situations. We drafted the interim constitution hoping that the CA will draft the constitution within two years. At that time there was a strong commitment and consensus among all the political parties to draft the new constitution through CA.
In every country, Constituent Assembly is constituted to produce the written constitution. However, our case is different as we are unable to write a new constitution even after completion of two years and one year extension. It is unfortunate that leaders of three major parties namely Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Unified Maoist have not made any sincere efforts to write the constitution. Actually, Constituent Assembly was nobody’s wish. Monarchist always opposed the CA and they are happy to see the present state. Maoist party, which was in search of safe landing airport, found the slogan of CA as a best place to rest. Nepali Congress and CPN-UML also agreed on CA just to give safe landing to the Maoist. What I mean is that Constituent Assembly is not their choice. They don’t have commitment. If they don’t have commitment on CA, how can you expect constitution through CA? The present Constituent Assembly was imposed upon them. The present result is due to their inactions and non-commitments. Although the Constituent Assembly election was held following a long sacrifice of people from all walks of life including Madheshis who supported the demand hoping that the new constitution will fulfill their demands to establish separate identity under the federal state. Madheshi people shed their blood for one Madhesh and one Pradesh with right to self determination. But, the recent activities of three major political parties have shown that they are least bothered about all these important questions. UCPN-Maoist, a revolutionary party which waged people’s war for the demand of Constituent Assembly, gives up its agenda and involves in the power politics. The party wants power at any cost without fulfilling its commitment expressed in comprehensive peace agreement. If the present situation continues, the CA cannot produce the constitution even after several rounds of extension.There is no justification to extend the tenure of Constituent Assembly in the present circumstances.
Constituent Assembly is needed for writing the new constitution,settlement of political disputes and concluding the peace process but our past experiences have shown that no one is serious to write the new constitution. There is no sense to extend the term just for changing the government. This is the reason Madheshi Front decided not to vote for the extension of CA in present circumstances. We have wasted the last three years for the sake of nothing. Even now extension of CA for a year is going to do nothing. Of course, some party may find time to change the government and another party may lead the government. The front has already decided not to go for the race of power.If three parties extend tenure of the CA without credible commitment on two agenda: constitution and integration of Maoist combatants, it will be unacceptable for us. In case the three parties amended the constitution without our participation, we will go to the extent of mass resignation. If we do mass resignation, it will inspire major political govement in Madhesh. Our front has already made it clear that we don’t want to see that kind of situation to come. If parties sincerely agree to fulfill the demand of one Madhesh one Pradesh, and agree to conclude the peace process in logical way by integrating Maoist combatants, our front can consider. We will not vote just on the basis of written commitment but what we want is the implementation of the commitments. We want everything in cash and no one will vote in credit.
Major political parties have made the CA just as an airport for safe landing and they don’t have a plan to fly. They don’t have any fuel now to fly. They don’t have destination and plan. What I am saying is based on my long political experiences and hobnobbing with major political parties. I have participated in all the agreements and I was directly involved in all the negotiations that have taken place between different political forces. I have very bitter experiences about political forces. I have not found their commitments towards the new constitution. As long as no major breakthrough can be made, it is impossible to extend the tenure of CA. We cannot vote for the extension of CA without concrete improvement of the peace process, which we see as a distant dream given the present mode of the government.
( Tripathy is a CA member and General Secretary of Terai Madhesh Loktantrik Party)