published in The Himalayan Times daily Updated July 4, 2012,
GOVINDA RAJ JOSHI
"The political leaders have always laid emphasis on consensus‚ but their stances have been
rigid as per their own individual party ideology. If consensus could not be reached‚ there
was no procedure agreed upon to be adopted for taking the necessary remedial measures"
The demise of Constituent Assembly (CA) at midnight on May 27 has created ramifications on Nepalese politics. The dissolution made the Nepalese people desperate in their hope of getting a new constitution even after four years of the CA’s existence. Now, instead of giving the white paper to the people of Nepal about the reasons for the dissolution, the leaders of the major political parties are now blaming each other for the fiasco. The question now is why did CA fail? Even if its term was extended, would it have given the constitution to the people within the extended period? What is the political solution in the contest of the dissolution of CA? No discussion has been made among the politicalpartieson these issues and the people are not receiving the proper answers to these questions from the majorparty leaders. Again, the discussion is concentrated among them to grab power instead of giving the political solution to the nation. This is unfortunate.
The major cause of the failure of CA was its following the wrong principle of parliamentary democracy. Having said that CA was the supreme body, all of its power was in the hands of the top leadership of the major political parties. CA was virtually made a ratifying body for the decisions made by the supreme leaders. This was the first major cause for its failure. Secondly, the governance system of the state as presidential or parliamentary system, federalism—single ethnic federalism and multi ethnic federalism, election system, religious system, judicial system and many other issues became problems for drafting the constitution. That also hindered in the constitution-drafting task. Thirdly, the political parties gave priority to the government in spite of having to give priority to the drafting of the constitution.
Fourthly, the extension of CA after two years was a blunder. The people had given mandate to the CA members for two years. After two years, they had to go to the election again by amending some provisions of the Interim Constitution if necessary. Last but not the least, the cause of CA’s failure was following the wrong procedures in making decisions. The political leaders always laid emphasis on consensus, but their rigid stance was as per their own party ideology. If they could not reach consensus, there was no procedure to be adopted for taking any remedial measures. They had to go for a referendum if they could not reach consensus on any issue of the draftconstitution.
Neither the political leaders nor the CA itself gave proper attention to the procedures for making the decisions with regard to the constitution making. Because of all these reasons, CA failed and political deadlock was created in the country. Even if its term had been extended, the situation would have remained the same. Therefore, the dissolution of CA on May 27 was natural for the country.
The CA failed to draft the constitution, but there is no provision in our Interim Constitution to go for its election for the second time. The country cannot sustain the 601 members once again. So the failed CA system will not give any solution for the country. Now, we have to forget it as great political damage was done by it to Nepal. Four years is a long time for the development of the country. Who is responsible for such harm to the people will be evaluated in the coming days. Now, we have to follow the constitutional way for a complete political solution.
Without amending the constitution, neither any election nor anything can be done. No one can amend it barring an elected body. The president has no right to amend the constitution by himself. He also has to follow the democratic norms and values.
So it is not good to provoke and shift the responsibility upon the head of the president. He only can do something to lessen the damage to democratic norms and values. According to the provision of the constitution, there is no room for the president to take any action to solvetheproblem.
If there is consensus among the political parties, he can take the initiative. But, one voice among the political parties is next to impossible. As the contentious constitutional issues cannot be decided by the political parties, the only way to decide on them would be through a referendum. So we have to be ready to go to a referendum to decide on these issues and its results should be honoured by all.
For all these reasons, the president alone cannot do anything. The president can only give time bound notice for conclusion to be reached by the political parties. If they fail to reach consensus for forming the government or for holding the election, the only option for the president is to hold the parliamentary election for 240 seats and referendum on the above said issues. The president can suspend the constitutional provisions which are obstacles to holding the election for 240 parliamentary seats and the referendum.
He can manage it through an ordinance if necessary. Once the election is held and an elected body is put in place, it has the right to amend the Interim Constitution and form the government and draft the new constitution for the country. This is the only solution which can resolve the political deadlock of the country.
Joshi is former NC joint general secretary