The Dead Line

Had the country’s major political parties taken a decision, they would have saved the Constituent Assembly<br>A CORRESPONDENT

June 11, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No. -01 June. 08-2012 (Jestha 26, 2069)<br>

The Constituent Assembly died as a fairy tale. Constituted four years ago through the elections held under the adult franchise with much fanfare and massive support of the people, a large number of people eventually ignored its premature death.

Interestingly, the roads and highways blocked for a month by various groups opened from May 28 or after the demise of the CA. As some western diplomats were privately expressing views about a simmering situation of bloodbath in Nepal, nothing like this happened and the life turned more normal than usual on May 28.

May 27 began with an all party meeting at the prime minister’s residence at 7 O’clock in the morning.

After 9, prime minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda left the meeting. They came back at 2 to join the meeting with Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi and CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli. Later on, all the leaders moved to the chambers of the chairman of the Constituent Assembly. Former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba proposed for declaration of an emergency and extension of the CA tenure. Prime Minister Bhattarai reportedly agreed on Deuba’s proposal. However, NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel and UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal opposed it. They stressed on a concise constitution rather than extending the tenure.

The meeting to bring a concise constitution was finally disrupted when leader of Samyukta Madheshi Morcha insisted two provinces in Madhesh. After a series of disagreement, prime minister Baburam Bhattarai and Maoist leader Prachanda left the meeting, followed by leaders of SLMM. SLMM leader Mahanta Thakur even threatened to announce a stir if political parties did not agree on an ethnic-based federalism.

After prime minister Bhattarai, Maoist leader Prachanda and leaders of Madhesh left the chambers, chairman Subhash Chandra Nembang, Nepali Congress leaders Ram Chandra Poudel, Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN-UML leaders Jhalanath Khanal and Madhav Nepal discussed various options. They asked members of the Constitutional Committee whether they can make a brief constitution.

Following no solution in sight except to announce emergency, CPN-UML and Nepali Congress leaders agreed to support the proposal of Deuba. NC leader Poudel and CPN-UML leader Nepal left for Singh Durbar secretariat to propose emergency.

When they met Prachanda and Hishila Yemi, sitting outside the cabinet room, the mission of Poudel and Nepal was foiled at 11:30. They met CPN-UML leader and deputy prime minister Ishwor Pokharel, who came out boycotting the cabinet meeting which recommended the dissolution of CA

Constituent Assembly members and leaders of political parties did nothing to sort out differences. Even till the last minute of May 27, nobody sincerely took any step to prevent the disaster. Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subas Chandra Nembang expressed his hope until a few seconds before the announcement of the dissolution by Chairman of Constituent Assembly by prime minister. For his over optimism, Nepali Congress whip Laxman Ghimire gave Subas Chandra Nembang the title of “Ashabad Siromani” (Hopeful Master).

“Frankly speaking, nobody prepared any draft to present it before the CA on May 27 because there were so many disagreements that even we were compelled to stop writing when the disputes appeared again on multi-party vs pluralism and words selected for preamble,” said Tek Prasad Dhungana, member secretary of the Constitutional Committee which was given the role to draft the constitution. “ Despite strong efforts of the chair of the committee, political leadership did not really work for this.“

Out of 597 members of CA, 345 members were in the CA building in Baneshwor. They held a rally demanding summon of the meeting of the CA. Outside the CA, it was tense as it was surrounded by groups of ethnic based federalists and federalists. The situation was such that no member could leave or enter the building. 

When the prime minister’s address to the nation came on Nepal Television, Sher Bahadur Deuba and other leaders were hopeful that the prime minister would impose emergency and extend the tenure. 

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