Suggestions that political parties in Nepal are now talking of a consensus on a national government are welcome. Short of taking the other viable option, fresh elections, such a consensus would be the right way forward. In this situation of a constitutional crisis, New Delhi must be seen to be utterly impartial, with stability and democracy in Nepal being the guiding principle of its attitude towards Kathmandu. This has become even more pressing a need given the split in the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), with a hardline faction led by senior vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya 'Kiran', along with other senior leaders, forming a rival Nepal Communist Party (Maoist). India, often accused of a bigbrotherly attitude and indulging in machinations against the Maoists, must be seen to be equidistant given that one of the grouses of the Kiran faction is a perceived cosying up of the Maoists with New Delhi. But such has been the squabbling between the political parties, and the fragmentation of Nepali politics along identity-management lines, that it is a moot point whether even a national government will be able to get down to the perpetuallydeferred task of writing the Constitution - a task that suffered a blow with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. Neither is it clear if, even if all parties agree on holding them, fresh elections will lead to greater clarity.
The threat of political instability turning violent cannot be taken lightly. India must play its cards judiciously. The split among the Maoists was, actually, long-awaited. Its roots lie in the revolution versus peace and constitution pulls within the Maoists. The split will certainly weaken the Maoists, but even as there are valid criticisms against it, the Baburam Bhattarai-Prachanda faction seems committed to the idea of continuing to adhere to the remarkable transition to democratic politics that the Maoists made after successfully forcing out the monarchy. A situation where the old regime, or monarchists, tries to sneak back into power would be a recipe for intense turmoil. The consensus among the political parties must be maintained.