POLITICS Whose Consensus?

From restoration of the dissolved Constituent Assembly to resignation of prime minister Bhattarai, Nepal’s political course is passing through a confusing phase<br>A CORRESPONDENT

July 9, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No.-03 July 06 -2012 (Aashar 22,2069)<BR>

After nearly a month of lull in the political scenario, the political temperature of the country has suddenly risen as a group of Nepali Congress CA members of dissolved Constituent Assembly (CA) submitted their memorandum to their party president Sushil Koirala.

Receiving the memorandum presented by 86 former CA members, Koirala said that he is not against the revival of CA. Backed by two Congress stalwarts Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Poudel, as well as former chair of Constituent Assembly Subas Chandra Nembang, the agenda of revival got another turn after the Janajati Caucus joined them.

However, the revival agenda backfired and did not get a headline for less than two days. The first opposition voices come from Nepali Congress leader Dr. Shekhar Koirala, who was also an elected member of dissolved Constituent Assembly. “It will be unfortunate to revive the dissolved CA. The country will plunge into a civil war if the CA is revived,” thundered Dr. Shekhar Koirala.  "Revival of the failed CA is against the wishes of the people. When I recently visited my constituency, I found an overwhelming majority of the people feel relieved after the dissolution of CA,” said Dr. Koirala.

With a strong backing within his party, Dr. Koirala’s prescription to the present crisis is the resignation of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and formation of an all-party national consensus government by the president. However, Prime Minister Bhattarai and his ally SLMM oppose this argument saying that the president has no constitutional power to dismiss the government.

“President cannot do anything to this government. This government is replaced by only through the new CA,” said Prime Minister Bhattarai. However, president Dr. Ram  Baran  Yadav has not said anything about the present stalemate but his statement indicated that he is willing to play the soft ball provided political consensus.

Even president Dr. Yadav asked Minister of Finance to bring the budget as per the mandate given by the Interim Constitution. In his regular meeting with various political parties, President Dr. Yadav has been urging them to forge a political consensus.

As the possibility of revival of the dissolved CA has gone and holding fresh election for CA is impossible in the present context, Nepal’s political leaders have very few options left.  Prime Minister Bhattarai has already made it clear that he will remain as a caretaker till holding the fresh elections challenging other parties.

As prime minister’s resignation is gradually fading, two main opposition, parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have called the president to exercise his executive power to dismiss the present government and install the new all-party government. This will be costly too.  It is unlikely that present caretaker government led by Baburam will be ousted from power until November.

After the split of UCPN-Maoist and Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) and Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (Republic), the strength of present coalition has already changed. In another three months, the situation might compel the prime minister to resign paving the way for another national government.

Despite efforts of political leaders to find the political solution, they are yet to reach a consensus for change. The war between consensus of prime minister and two main oppositions will continue.

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