“This will pave the way for implementation of the 5-point agreement signed on May 29 morning by top leaders of three parties” is how Speaker Subas Nembang reacted when Jhala Nath Khanal resigned as the Prime Minister on August 14. The Speaker had no remorse that the agreement that should have been implemented immediately as promised in the House that he chaired came so late.
Speaker Nembang is deeply in the camp of Prime Minister Khanal in the divided CPN-UML, and on several occasions, he has gone against the rules, practices and traditions followed by the House. Unfortunately, he is presiding over a decadent House that has been unconstitutionally and unethically given extension. The full bench of the Supreme Court, in its detailed judgment (45 pages altogether), has explicitly said the House term, under no circumstances, can exceed 30 months. And the Constituent Assembly will be completing 40 months—ten months more than the SC’s prescribed limit—on August 31.
All this is coinciding with the ever increasing political chaos and uncertainty promoted deliberately by the big four —UCPN-Maoists, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Madhesh groups—just to have their privilege and status extended. They will try to repeat the feat on August 31 for another three months, and no matter what the SC judgment says, there are fears that the Speaker, so much habituated to defying the norms, will allow further extension.
With Khanal’s resignation finally, Nepali Congress and the UCPN-M have already staked their claims. Baburam Bhattarai, the man who said many times not a word of what Maoists do not want will be incorporated in the constitution, has been projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate by the Maoists while the tussle between Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba still remain unresolved within the Nepali Congress. Given his undiluted faith in the politics of weapons, Bhattarai will be having the first ever chance—or may be the last also—to finish his opponents, both within the party and outside—and no one understands it better than Maoist chief Prachanda. There are still chances till the last minute that Prachanda will out-maneuver Bhattarai and end up backing somebody else from another party if he himself stood no chance for the top executive post. Prachanda knows that somebody else from his party in general, and Bhattarai in particular, becoming the Prime Minister will also ultimately endanger his chair as the Party Chief.
While this power game goes on inside the parties, mainly in the UCPN-M and the Nepali Congress, the people in general have lost their faith in the current politics and their leadership who stand thoroughly discredited. They know the current dispensation or the constituent assembly is neither going to complete the peace process nor deliver the constitution. The only logic that big four are forwarding is that ‘the CA does not have an alternative’. This is something only dictators say.
Democracy is all about choices, and there are multiple choices available even now. If the House goes, or if there is no government elected, no one is going to shed tears. Any given five years period was better than the last five years, in terms of the presence of the state and its delivery. There has been no phase in the history of Nepal when politicians were above the law.