President Ram Baran’s numerous extensions and incessant hammering of major leaders of this country to reach consensus to form a unity government that would, amongst others, organize fresh elections to CA has failed to produce positive outcome. Leaders are said to be meeting, formally and informally, to tell people that they are about to strike a never-to –be struck deal and go on to blame one another for the failure to do so. People are blaming the whole lot for their failure, but some are blamed more than others. Maoist chairman,Prachanda, has succeeded of late in passing a major portion of the blame piled on him to his subordinate and current Prime Minister Baburam Bhattari.Some how Prachanda has led people to think that he is all set to forge consensus by letting NC president,Sushil Koirala, head the consensus government. It may be worth mentioning that NC had unanimously nominated Koirala for the post after the party was repeatedly asked by leaders, mainly Prachanda, to do so.Koirala was proposed by Deuba,often reported as a permanent claimant to the post of PM from NC, and seconded by Poudyal who suffered numerous electoral debacles as party nominee for the post when CA was still alive.Deuba showed political maturity by proposing Koirala and quietly opting out of the race, unlike in the past, in a politically perplexing environment.Poudyal’s decision also to be away from the race, stopping at least for the time being his sobbing, has done him no harm. Deuba and Poudyal may not have made much political capital on this account, but they are definitely not the losers in the ongoing political game/battle. They are now doing what is expected of them, supporting Koirala’s candidature and occasionally blaming Maoists for the political mess. Nobody knows when Koirala, known to be a selfless man who stayed away from positions of power in the past, would become PM but what he should not forget to show practically that he does not give too much importance to the post.Hope Parchanda, said to have lured him into offering his candidature, succeeds in materializing his promise to Koirala without wasting much time.Flexibiliy and desire shown by Prachanda in handing over premiership to NC is appreciated by people desperately looking for an end to the current stalemate. His much publicized disagreement with Bhattari-led ruling coalition over the government hand over issue has also earned him some credit. Unfortunately, people have begun to believe that Prime Minister is not at all in favour of relinquishing power and is prolonging his rule, despite repeated commitments that he would not be an impediment to consensus. Countering Dahal’s remarks that it would be unwise to keep sticking to the chair, Bhattari observed that he alone could not take the decision of quitting the government because he needed the consent of United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF), a major partner in the current coalition government. Confronted by an adamant Baburam, Prachanda is said to be seeking help from NC and UML to convince him to step down.Madhav Nepal, senior leader of UML,has signaled out Bhattari as the main bottleneck to consensus and people do not find unpalatable his allegation that the coalition between him and UMDF is just for corruption. Despite signs of helplessness exhibited by him occasionally, Prachanda seems to have succeeded in winning his party’s support to hand over power to NC provided a package deal is struck.Prachanda and all other leaders urging Bhattari to step down have not lost anything politically post CA dissolution. The major loser on this front has been Bhattari who should now understand that those asking him to stick to the chair are not doing him good because his dwindling popularity is likely to suffer further erosion should he continue to follow their advice.UMDF stalwarts, in keeping with their tradition of being loyal to the commander that they work under, have solidly backed Bhattari to lead the consensus government. Worth mentioning would be their loyalty and support to Madhav Nepal, who generously shared power with them during his reign, giving an impression that they would be with him through thick and thin. They are loyal to Bhattari and will remain loyal to any accommodative successor of him. An exception, of course, was J N Khanal whose inability/unwillingness to include them in his cabinet not only deprived him of the opportunity of testing their loyalty but turned them into his bitter foes.UMDF has recently floated nine-point proposal for the package deal. Along with their commander Bhattari, UMDF stalwarts in government have not gained politically because their voters in southern plain of Nepal are accusing them of concentrating more on their personal material wellbeing rather than the basic problems of the inhabitants there. This lot in government is definitely not a gainer. On the contrary, a leader like Upendra Yadav, who suffered setbacks due to party splits, seems to have done some damage repairing work, staying out of governments and corruption-related scandals. Of the numerorous political losers, Bhattari is number one because he has neither played a facilitating role in ending the current impasse nor has he succeeded in providing the much promised economic relief to the people facing soaring prices of essentials, increasing hours of power outage, acute scarcity of drinking water and a stagnating economy.Further, high level of corruption in Nepal has received international recognition and remains unchecked. People feel bad that a leader considered stainless until recently will have to leave the government with a tarnished image.
President Ram Baran, with a seemingly accentuated level of confusion, invited all the political parties that together formed the dead CA and told the leaders assembled that the process which he announced earlier was still on. He also urged them to reach consensus to form a government at the earliest. His numerous urgings so far have failed to narrow down intra-party (between Prachanda and Baburam) and inter-party (involving mainly Maoist, NC and UML) hassels, let alone contributing towards attaining consensus. These extensions generously provided by our President have now become somewhat meaningless and some other ways, many feel, should be thought of instead of frequently renewing the presidential urging of November 23.Those sharing this kind of view include even some influential party leaders such as R S Mahat of NC who has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction over this repetition. Difficult to say how many will agree with him when he suggests that President should take resort to article 38(2) of the Interim Constitution to form a majority government at a time when CA does not exist, Mahat will, however, have plenty of people to support his view on the extension issue. Let us hope that the six-day extension provided by the President hours before he embarked upon a state visit to India produces positive resulte,pleasantly surprising many of us and Dr. Yadav who is also expected to return with a much reduced level of confusion from India.