Gaps Galore

With the completion of opinion collection, the new phase of political confrontation is in the horizon

July 27, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 09 No. -3 July. 24- 2015 (Shrawan 08, 2072)

A group of Madheshi leaders thronged the doors of District Development Committee of Rautahat, manhandling former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and smashing his private car.

Similarly, a group of people tried to break the security cordon of UCPN-Maoist leader Prachanda inside District Development Committee hall in Siraha and ransacked papers.

Some unknown persons threw an explosive targeting the car of Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat. Along with two former prime ministers Nepal and Prachanda and Finance Minister Dr. Mahat, Nepali Congress general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula faced similar wrath in Jhapa district. A group of RPP-Nepal cadres entered National Stadium and ravaged papers from deputy prime minister Prakash Man Singh.

Not only Madheshis and RPP-Nepal, CPN-Maoist also asked its cadre to disrupt the process of opinion collection. Hindu Religious leaders and leaders of ethnic community have already threatened to use all kinds of means to disrupt the process.

At a time when his colleagues from three political parties were protected by their security personnel, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala joined the opinion collection process in his home town of Nepalgunj amidst a tight security.

“Don’t think that we can go back from such an opposition. No one can stop us now from promulgating the new constitution. It is a matter of a month now,” thundered Koirala. “Only constitution can give the much-needed economic development and progress.”

Out of 240 constituencies of 75 districts, almost all constituencies have witnessed one or the other kind of opposition during the period of opinion collection. After completing the two days designated for opinion collection, the CA members are returning to Kathmandu.

CA members of the main political parties completed their task by paving the way for promulgation of the new constitution through a fast track.

However, the incidents that occurred during the opinion collection process has shown that there will be more political crises and disruptions in the days to come.  Once the reports enter the CA and work begins on finalizing the process, the country will see more clashes.

From the beginning, three political parties didn’t spare any time to show that the constitution will be drafted on their will giving enormous reason to question the neutrality of opinion collection.

Issuing guidelines and criteria for opinion collection, major political parties, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist, indulged in the process of opinion collection inviting a controversy.

“This whole process is undemocratic and against the wishes of Madheshi, janjatis and dalits,” said Laxman Lal Karn, co-chairman of Sadbhvana Party. “We are preparing for the final battle with the dictatorship of the three parties.”

Along with Madheshi leaders, RPP-Nepal chairman Kamal Thapa, leader of the fourth largest party of CA, has already made it clear that it will come in the street as the possibility to bring the Hindu constitution comes to an end.

“There is no way other than to bring the people in the streets to surround the CA,” said Thapa. “New constitution is unacceptable for us without a Hindu constitutional monarchy.”

According to Constituent Assembly secretariat, over 10,000 suggestions were sent to CA secretariat. “The process of opinion collection has gone smoothly in most of the districts and there are a few sporadic incidents in some places,” said Bharat Raj Gautam, spokesperson of Constituent Assembly Secretariat.

Despite nation-wide opposition, three ruling parties are determined to promulgate the new constitution by the middle of August. The process is likely to see political stalemates of any scale in the coming days. The draft has 297 articles, 37 parts and 7 annexes. Pressed by the earthquake, poor Nepalese will have to suffer if the process gets stalled.

Alliance In Trouble

Although the major political parties are drawing their power sharing agreement, it is unlikely that the 16-point agreement continues. Given the current political trend, breakup of this alliance is likely any time soon.

With the growing pressure in Nepali Congress to settle the borders of provinces and remove the 'secular' word from the constitution, it is likely to put in trouble its alliance relations with UCPN-Maoist.

UCPN-Maoist leader Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai have already made it clear that they will oppose any move to remove he secular clause from the constitution. However, Nepali Congress leaders and majority of CA members want Nepali Congress to stand on its own feet.

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