Just a day after a strike called by UCPN – Maoist, the top leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML began a meeting at the Prime Minister´s residence on Baluwatar on Wednesday morning. The meeting also came in the wake of the submission of the report by the Constitutional Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee to the Constituent Assembly.
Despite several rounds of formal and informal meetings and talks, consensus on the key contents of a new constitution has not been possible. Assurances have been given but the hopes of seeing a constitution by the January 22 deadline is but lost.
With the deadlock looking to further drag on, minority party leaders have taken to the streets to protest. The United Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist (UCPN–M) and the Maoist party headed by Mohan Badiya called for shutdowns across the country on Tuesday with at least two other strikes planned for the next one week.
Although the parties have almost agreed on judiciary and election system, with the lower house to be elected through mixed election system, the issue of federalism has not been resolved yet. While minority parties still stress on ethnic identities as the basis for state restructuring, the Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal–United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), who command two-thirds of the vote in the Constitutional Assembly, are opposed to it.
With confusions and chaos surrounding the deadline, "the new statute by January 22 will be possible only if there is a miracle”, to quote NC leader Purna Bahadur Khadka.