Former Home minister and leader of Nepali Congress GOVINDA RAJ JOSHI has straight-forward views on the current political impasse. Having secured various positions in the party, including that of the joint general secretary, Joshi is now leading a campaign to rejuvenate Nepali Congress as a centrist democratic party. Joshi spoke to New Spotlight on various current political issues. Excerpts:
How do you describe the current political scenario after the demise of the Constituent Assembly?
There are signs for optimism as well as pessimism. Despite the continuation of the political deadlock, there are also ways out from it.
Following the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, different political forces have been putting different views. What is your suggestion?
First of all there is no provision in the constitution to hold the elections for the Constituent Assembly again. Thus a good option will be to form a government with the consensus of all political parties and hold the elections for parliament. This will bring political and constitutional solutions.
Who do you blame for the demise of CA?
Because of the immaturity and irresponsibility of the present political leaders, the CA died. Instead of giving priority to constitution writing, they gave priority to grabbing and sticking to power.
But some politicians, including some of your CA members, are pursuing revival of the dissolved CA for a brief period. How do you look at this?
Unlike previous parliaments, the Constituent Assembly had a fixed tenure. It died naturally and there is no provision for its revival. Had it worked as expected, it would have promulgated the new constitution before its natural death.
If political parties accept your proposition, how would you divide the constituencies?
We can hold the election for 240 constituencies for the parliament as in the interim constitution. Neither the elections of CA nor its revival will solve the political problems of the country. Thus, I am proposing only the creation of an elected body directly by the people will be the solution to the present deadlock.
How can you guarantee that the newly-elected parliament will promulgate the new constitution?
We have settled a number of issues from the previous Constituent Assembly. After holding the elections of parliament, it will look at several issues like making constitution, and forming government. Before deciding the unresolved constitutional issues, it will decide procedures to make the decision and the goals of the new constitution will be divided by it. The previous CA failed to bring the constitution because it did not have procedures and goals. If there can be no consensus among political parties on issues like secularism and other non-secular issues, presidential system or parliamentary system, ethnic federalism or non-ethnic federalism and other issues, we can even call for a referendum.
When such a large and inclusive CA failed to settle the issue of federalism, forms of government and other many constitutional issue, how can another elected body settle it again?
The previous modus operandi was wrong. Though the CA was said to be supreme, all its powers were captured by four leaders of major political parties. That was neither democratic nor parliamentary. If all the powers are given to the elected body with clear destination and fixed procedures, that body can easily decide and make the new constitution.
Who will form the all party government?
It is the president who needs to encourage political parties and leaders to go for a consensus government. As the guardian of the constitution, he is the only elected person in the country who has the constitutional authority to suggest to them the need of unity to solve the current constitutional and other problems. If they fail to form the consensus government for a long time, the president should not wait to give the solution for the sake of the country.
Prime minister Baburam Bhattarai and UCPN-Maoist Prachanda have been saying that there is no provision in the constitution to remove the prime minister. Don’t you think any move of the president may invite further controversies?
Prime minister Baburam Bhattarai and Maoist leader Prachanda also said that they are ready to support an all-party consensus government. If the country’s major political parties agree, there is no question about controversies. The Interim Constitution has given a clear role to the president to act to protect the constitution. As a guardian of the constitution, the president needs to play his role.
After the agreement between your party president Sushil Koirala and leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, do you think it has addressed all the internal problems, including those raised by you and your colleagues?
Their differences might have been settled through a give and take. Our concerns are not based on individual give and take. We have been raising political and ideological issues within Nepali Congress. Unless the party is ready to address the concerns raised by us, the disputes within the party will remain there.