The Constituent Assembly may have been elected to perform a task—drafting a new constitution—as agreed by four major political parties , but it was also the outcome of a legitimate process and ill-intent all through. It never tried to carve for itself an independent and pro-people role. And it was happy to act as a rubber stamp to the whims of the leaders of the four big parties, little bothering the people had elected it to act as their representative body, and not as the slave of four parties monopolising the entire political process and related issues.
Around two dozen political agreements have been signed during the past six years among the top leaders. Except the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), none of them has entered into the political or constitution making process. As a result, these agreements and documents have lost the relevance in the constitution making process, if at all the thread will be picked up from where it has been left. Subhash Nembang , Chairman of the CA and Nilambar Acharya , Chairman of the Constitutional Committee, miserably failed to gauge the people’s aspiration , and their lack of faith in the conduct and honesty of the big four leaders. These two failed to protect the honour, dignity and wishes of the members of the CA.
About an hour before the May 27 midnight deadline, the members left the House—their home four four years—dejected , humiliated, and stripped of their membership. They waited through out the day that the top leaders will at least bringing out some draft of the constitution, and ask them to endorse it with voice or raising of hands by the deadline, so that their name would go down in the history as the ‘makers of the future constitution’. But ‘decisive’ talks in Baluatar broke down as Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Prachanda were waiting for leaders of the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front, to endorse Maoist line on federalism, and several other contentious issues.
As that did not happen, Bhattarai opted to let the House die , so that Maoists, in alliance with the UDMF , and janajati CAUCUS could go to the poll in alliance for another Constituent Assembly and get a two third majority so that they could bring the constitution of their liking. Nepali Congress and the UML relasised very late that the Maoists were out to finish them like they finished the King or the monarchy four years ago. In a way, it was revealed to the whole world that the CA became a victim of conspiracy as Maoists wanted to use it the way they wanted, and in no way, to have a constitution written and delivered.
The international community, mainly the western world is disappointed with the Nepali Actors including the Maoists. They are also being seen as the failures like Nepali actors because a large section of the international community acted as any internal actor. Naturally, a fair share of the blame for failure belongs to them. Why were the champions of Human rights like Britain, U S, Nordic countries , Switzerland silent when major provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement not being implemented? Peace can not be established effectively without justice. But neither the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, nor that on the Disappeared was formed, nor was the property confiscated by the Maoists returned. The reintegration of the combatants and dismantling of the ‘Peoples Liberation Army’ is not yet complete. Yet, the leaders of the big four kept saying that ‘more than 80 per cent of the Constitution writing has been done, and that it will be delivered by the deadline’. There was mad rush of the international community to congratulate the parties for their statement. The world outside failed to make an assessment of what was actually happening in Nepal and what they really wanted to happen.
There is talk outside: what can India and the international community do to address the political and constitutional crisis that has befallen the country? Definitely, they can play a role, but first condition is they should learn to respect the sovereignty of the country, and refrain from playing one community against another, and one party against another. They should not promote the politics of exclusion , and that they should leave it to the people of Nepal to ultimately decide the polity and constitution they want to adopt in the country. That the international community was blindly supporting the leaders of the big four parties even when they were making the CA—a people’s body—redundant shows they were least bothered about the success of democracy and democratic process in Nepal.
Democracy is all about process. Established norms, process and traditions as well as laws can not be ignored as a matter of rule. But in the past four years, four parties whims and fancies, and Speaker Nembang’s servility eclipsed the process that was very very necessary to follow to have a proper constitution drafted.
President Ram Baran Yadav has now come out with a communiqué that makes it clear that Bhattarai ceases to be a full fledged Prime Minister. He was removed from that position because he has ceased to be the member of the House. The same interim constitution was in vogue when the CA came into existence in May 2008. Then how come G P Koirala who was not a member of the House acted as the Prime Minister when the first session of the House conducted its business. K P Situala who was defeated in the election illegally entered the House and moved the resolution to abolish the Monarchy. The issue: whether Monarchy is needed or not is a political question that Nepalese have to decide. But a thoroughly unconstitutional process was adopted in deciding the issue four years ago. President Yadav’s latest decision on Bhattarai reopens that chapter once again, and leaves it to the people of Nepal to decide what is in the best interest of the country.
So naturally, the next course that Nepal’s politics should take , will depend on what the people want. Past four years, the four parties backed by the international community fully , had been flexing their muscles on the dissenting views, that was silent and perhaps terrorised. A constitution can not be written in such a situation. The major issues like federalism, secularism and republic was never taken to the people. Now, the silent and terrorised group—with substantial presence across the country—has woken up saying ‘enough is enough’. They have also challenged the international community and asking for them to be accountable for loss of time, energy and national effort. Some have apologised for their high-handed role, and some have said the constitution must belong to Nepalis—owned and driven by them. So the exercise must begin now. The first condition is the monopoly ownership of four parties over the political process, must end. Second, a round table conference of all the parties in the CA and those recognised by the Election Commission, and the votaries of revival of the 1990 constitution all must be equal stake holders. Third, the four parties must not be leading the government now. And , the Nepali Congress, at least must realise now that its policy of being guided by outside, and ignoring the policy of national reconciliation, was the best policy for Nepal. The interim constitution can not be respected and imposed for ever.