POLITICS: Fresh Course

Nepalese politics is likely to move towards another course of uncertainty

March 6, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 08 No. -17 March. 06- 2015 (Falgun 22, 2071)

After addressing a 30,000-strong crowd at the Open Air Theater of Kathmandu, UCPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai flew to Indian city of Mumbai, seeking a positive role of India to end the current political stalemate.

At a time when differences between Nepal’s major political forces, UCPN-Maoist led 30-party alliance and ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have deepened, no domestic effort seems to be capable of ending the political deadlock.

After bringing a big crowd in the streets of Kathmandu, the opposition alliance holds the view that the CA is no longer the sole legitimate body to promulgate the new constitution. “We will not accept the constitution promulgated by CA under the majority basis. By joining the street protests, Nepali people have shown that they are with us,” thundered UCPN-Maoist chair Prachanda. 

CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli rebuffed Prachanda’s statement saying that bringing a few thousand people to the streets of Kathmandu cannot stop the elected CA from issuing the constitution.

“We are waiting for the UCPN-Maoist led alliance till the last minute. If they do not join in the process, we will move on to promulgate the new constitution by May 22, the Republic Day,” said K.P. Sharma Oli. “The ball is now in the court of UCPN-Maoist.”

These statements indicate that any compromise on the basis of give and take is unlikely. In the last few weeks, various forces, including western diplomats, civil society leaders and political parties, have moved with new proposals. However, nothing has worked.

Political leaders criticize the civil society leaders whereas Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was very critical of the role played by western countries to pursue for peace and negotiation. Prime Minister Koirala objected to the UN and western efforts to bring two forces together on broader consensus agenda.

“Prime Minister Koirala is clear about the situation. He is giving some time for consensus. If there is no consensus, he will go for majority voting in the CA,” said an advisor of Koirala. “The Prime Minister is unhappy with western diplomats who have been harping on the word consensus.”

When the ruling parties and opposition are blocking the road for all, there will more role for India to play now. UCPN-Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai’s recent interview to Indian newspapers seeking role of India to end the stalemate is important.

“Generally, India has played a positive role in the democratic movement in Nepal and in the peace process. On the issue of constitution making and federalism, since there is a dispute among parties within the country, India is not seen to be as proactive as it used to be seen earlier on other issues. Of course, with Nepal being a sovereign, independent country, Nepali parties and people should decide the issue amongst themselves. But India is one of the stakeholders of the peace process, and a prominent, important neighbor. If the peace process is not completed in a proper manner in Nepal, there will be a fallout effect on India. And in that sense, it is expected that India would play a positive role in the conclusion of the peace process which was initiated in 2006,” said Bhattarai in his interview to Hindustan Times.

Politics of Nepal is entering a new path. The statement of RPP leader Pashupati Sumsher Rana, brother-in-law of Indian leader Karna Singh who backed the agreement between King Gyanendra and seven parties Maoist Alliance in 2006, is meaningful in this context. RPP chair Rana said that there was gentle agreement between King and political parties in the presence of Karna Singh on the future role of monarchy in Nepal.

In his recent statement, former King Gyanendra urged political parties to respect the gentleman's agreement made with him during the negotiation in 2006. This has already created a new scenario.

As more political complexity and confrontation loom, India, which helped forge the agreement between seven political parties and Maoist, has a role to play.

Coming Scenario

Given Nepal’s political history, there will be some sort of agreement in a few months involving various forces. As the forces which are against the current CA are coming closer, directly and indirectly, including RPP-Nepal, UCPN-Maoist-CPN-Maoist and all other Maoist brands, including newly split Chand led Maoist, and two ruling parties are not in a position to push their own agenda given internal dissensions, formation of another mechanism outside CA to draft the new constitution is likely.

As all other previously active forces have backtracked, only India can influence the rainbow forces to come closer and promulgate the new constitution acceptable for all. UCPN-Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is likely to bring some hints about any new agreement for the new constitution.

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