Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book on Media And Conflcit Reporting

Click the link below to read my chapter on Conflict and Media in Nepal in the book " Media & Conflict Reporting in Asia" published by Asian Information and Communication Center (AMIC) and Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Credibility of UN role in crisis

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The credibility of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is in crisis. This is because of its own role, reports and remarks. The question that has been raised about the competence and neutrality of the UN agency would have far-reaching impact on the future UN mission not only in Nepal but also in the world as a whole.
Report on Nepal
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently submitted his report to the UN Security Council on Nepal’s peace process and the role of the UNMIN. The remarks that Secretary General made in New York have sparked furor in Nepal. The government and the ruling parties have come down heavily on the world body accusing the United Nations of interfering in Nepal’s internal politics. The government of Nepal through its mission in New York has already lodged a complaint in the UN headquarters begging to differ in what the UN secretary general has to say about Nepal’s political situation and his prescription.
A minister has even said in public that the government would seek clarification from the UNMIN chief Karin Landgren once she returns to Kathmandu. However, there is no unanimity in this view. Political parties and civil society are divided on this very issue. While the government is furious over the world body’s opinion, the main opposition party—the UCPN-Maoist— has defended the UN chief’s remarks and dubbed the government and the coalition partners as being instigated by a foreign power against the United Nations and its role. Whatever the opinions for or against, Secretary General’s remarks, which have come at a time when the tenure of the UNMIN is going to expire in a few months, has definitely raised the question of UN role in Nepal and its neutrality.
Secretary General’s report on Nepal was based on the briefing of UNMIN chief Karin Landgren, who flew to New York recently. This is not the first time that the world body has expressed its displeasure over the delay in Nepal’s political and peace process. Even in the past, the UN Secretary General had said that the comprehensive peace agreement was not fully respected and parties did not do enough homework to settle some of the vexing issues closely linked with the peace process. The timely writing of the constitution and completing the peace process requires these issues to be resolved earlier on the basis of consensus. What the UN Secretary General’s report has stated is the fact that Nepal needs a national government with representation of all political parties in the Constituent Assembly. There is nothing wrong in his saying.
Everyone both at home and abroad are talking of the national consensus and a national government. There is no denying the fact that the constitution writing and peace process cannot be accomplished successfully by marginalizing the largest political party in Nepal. Even the present Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and other leaders of the ruling parties have accepted this fact. But the question is about who should lead the government. Although the inherent meaning and intent of the UN chief’s report may not be bad, the timing when the remarks came was definitely not appropriate. The UN chief’s opinion came at a time when the Maoists are on war path with the objective of unseating the present government. The government of Nepal and ruling parties found ground to suspect UNMIN’s covert plan to poke nose in Nepal’s internal political affairs and indirectly back Maoists’ design.
The Secretary General’s report has stated that the delay was due to the behaviour and attitude of the political stakeholders of Nepal especially the political parties. However, he failed to mention that the role of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was also partly responsible for the present mess Nepal is facing.
The UNMIN came to Nepal upon the request of the government and the political parties including the Maoists. As a neutral body, its role was defined to facilitate the peace process and monitoring the management of the Maoist arms and armies. However, it, too often, crossed its limitation and mandate and passed comments on several controversial issues ostensibly taking a side of one of the two parties involved in the conflict. This is a repeated mistake that UNMIN has made right from the beginning.
This is not the first time that UNMIN has come under criticism. Ever since the UNMIN came to Nepal, it has never been a neutral body but has taken this or that side which has been a subject of criticism. The present ruling parties had also severely criticized UNMIN’s role. A year ago, Sushil Koirla, in a public function, had accused the UNMIN of not being neutral. The Maoists, too, were very critical and even harsh towards the role UNMIN played and dubbed UNMIN’s role as biased and against its mandate. The Maoist general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal had once publicly criticized the UNMIN for its role ‘as an activist rather than a facilitator’. Even our neighbours are not very happy with what UNMIN was doing in Nepal.
One interesting thing we have noticed right from the beginning is the fact that when one party criticizes the UNMIN the other comes to its rescue. When the Maoists were critical of the UNMIN, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML defended UNMIN’s role. Now the Congress and the UML are venting their ire against the UN, the Maoists have come forward to defend the world body.
When Ian Martin was the UNMIN head, he acted like a political leader and often made political statements. His role had been most controversial and his departure from Nepal had been a sigh of relief for many. It was expected the new UNMIN head would avoid the mistakes her predecessors had done. Although Landgren, by nature, prefers to remain in a little low profile, she followed the footprints of her predecessors. The current situation is its outcome.
As the role of UNMIN has not been satisfactory, its relevance now is under question. After the Constituent Assembly election, the role of UNMIN has been drastically reduced. The monitoring of the management of the Maoist arms and armies has been the main job UNMIN has been entrusted with at present. But this process has been too slow and no significance achievement has been made in managing the Maoist arms and armies. Looking at the progress and speed with which the process of management of arms and armies is moving forward, it looks that this issue is less likely to be solved soon. In certain cases, UNMIN itself has created some complications. Thus, the relevance of UNMIN is slowly getting over.
Now all the parties involved in the conflict are disenchanted with the UNMIN’s role, it would be wise if the mandate of the world body and its performance are seriously and thoroughly reviewed. As the UNMIN’s tenure is renewed and extended in every six months, the review of its mandate and role should be done before the tenure of UNMIN is extended again. If UNMIN is so controversial and its role not effective, it would not be wise to extend its tenure again.
The UN was and is involved in many conflict prone countries in the world. But the results are mixed. To be more specific, there are more failures of the UN involvements than success stories. The intents of the world body may not be bad. But the competence and intention of the individuals have played a big role in the success and failure of the UN missions. In some cases, UN involvement has made things even worse and more complicated than ever before. It is because the individuals in charge of such mission carried agenda of certain countries rather than the agenda of the United Nations. In Nepal too, the role and activities of some UNMIN officials especially during the Constituent Assembly had not been very welcome. The World body, therefore, must review its own activities rather than putting blames on Nepal’s political players.

Political Crisis deepens

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The country is now in the biggest political crisis since the Jana Andolan II. The UCPN-Maoist, the main opposition party in parliament, has waged a nationwide protest seemingly to oust the present Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal from the seat of power and lead the next government. But it is not so easy for the Maoists to pull down the present government that is enjoying strong backing from 22 parties that constitute comfortable majority in parliament.
It is against this background that Prime Minister Nepal appears to be fully confident of his majority in parliament and has repeatedly challenged the Maoists to prove their majority in the House. In the present situation as no political party has the majority in parliament, the number plays crucial role. It would be difficult for the Maoists to have the magic 301 number as no party has been forthcoming to support the Maoists. Thus, the chances for the Maoists to form the new government appear to be very slim at the moment. The Maoists also have understood this situation and are weighing different options. Prachanda’s recent remarks that his party was protesting not for going to power but for ensuring civilian supremacy and facilitating the peace process are, perhaps, the realization of this grim reality.
If the Maoists want to lead the government, they must win confidence of at least one major party because they do not have the 301 magic number in parliament. No major party at the moment is in position of supporting the Maoists. Nepali Congress is the architect of the present and it has already come up with official version that there is no alternative to the present government. The CPN-UML definitely does not want to pull down its own government. So the Maoists have to take several other parties’ support to prove its majority in the House. So far as other parties are concerned, none of the parties, except the Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), is prepared to align with the Maoists. With support only from the Yadav-led MJF, the Maoists would not have majority. Even if Prime Minister resigns, the Maoists would not be able to form the government in the present political equation.
But the present government, too, is in moral crisis. It has been unable to take the opposition party into confidence and ensure the smooth functioning of parliamentary procedures. The parliament has been obstructed continuously for almost two months. If parliament does not resume its usual job for another two weeks, the budget for the current fiscal year would be affected. As its consequence, the government would not be able to spend the money from the exchequer. In such an eventuality, there would be two options left with the Prime Minister. One is to step down to facilitate other to lead the government and the other one is to prorogue the present session of parliament and bring the budget through ordinance. The Prime Minister and the ruling parties would definitely choose the second option. This option is possible but is not morally correct to bring the budget through ordinance because the fiscal bill was already under discussion in the House.
The other grim reality, you may call it irony, that the Prime Minister getting stronger support from other coalition partners than from his own party. Already mired in a faction fighting, there are some leaders in the UML who do not want Madhav Nepal to emerge stronger. Chairman of the CPN-UML, Jhalanath Khanal, himself is aspiring to lead the government. In a number of occasions, Khanal has said that he was prepared to take the responsibility of the Prime Minister if the situation demands.
Khanal’s desire for leading the government is not illogical as he is directly elected from the people. But the choice of Jhalanath Khanal to lead the government would be possible only when the Maoists join the government under his leadership. The Nepali Congress and some other small parties would not be comfortable to back Khanal as the Prime Minister because of his pro-Maoists posture. In the present political context, someone who he is decisive, daring and also moderate and capable of getting support of others is needed. Khanal lacks that quality.
Madhav Nepal was viewed as a pragmatic politician with high morality. Within CPN-UML and also outside, Madhav Nepal is regarded as the liberal leader. It is this image that he became of the longest-serving general secretary of the party. His image as a man of moral authority was created when he resigned from the post of party’s general secretary after his own defeat from two constituencies and poor performance of his party in the Constituent Assembly election. Despite this, one thing is clear that if Madhav Nepal cannot forge consensus, none of the leaders in the UML party and even in the Nepali Congress, barring Girija Prasad Koirala, would be able to take all the political forces together.
But his image as a man of morality was tarnished once he went to power. He should have rejected the offer of Prime Minister and concentrated more in consolidating the party if he wanted to maintain that image. The Prime Minister’s decision to promote foreign minister Sujata Koirala’s to deputy Prime Minister under Girija Prasad Koirala’s pressure has eroded his moral authority. By doing this, he has also lost the trust of a faction of the Nepali Congress.
Under these circumstances, the solution of the present political deadlock may not be found easily and early. The country then would continue to be mired in the political confrontation and crisis. This would delay the peace process and constitution making process. In the present context, unity and consensus among at least three major parties is necessary to pass the constitution. But parties are so far apart that the chances of consensus are very remote, let alone formation of a national government. If the political parties do not dispel their differences, it may not be possible to write the constitution and conclude the peace process in time.
Given the attitude of the parties, it seems that they are not interested to complete the constitution writing and peace process. Once the constitution is written in time, the validity of the Constituent Assembly would be over. In that eventuality, the general election will have to be conducted. But political parties are not sure of their position and strength and are, therefore afraid of going to the election. Thus, they want to prolongue the crisis so that they would extend tenure of the Constituent Assembly by amending the Interim Constitution or seek other alternative arrangement so that they would continue to enjoy power.
Although the Maoists are the largest party, they are not sure that they would maintain the present position if the elections were held. Nepali Congress, too, is afraid of going to polls. The fear of the Nepali Congress is that its performance would be poorer than the present position because the Maoists have not allowed other parties to function in the rural areas. The CPN-UML is also paranoid because of the shocking result of the Constituent Assembly election. Projected as a winner prior to the election, the UML was reduced to the third position. There are no bases for the UML to improve its position if the general elections were held in next one year or so. Moreover, the vote bank of the UML has already been snatched away by the Maoists.
Thus, the political parties are not interested to complete the peace process early despite their rhetoric. In this design, all parties are unanimous and have consensus. So the parties’ ill-motive is sure to push the country to further instability, uncertainty and chaos. If it so happens, the country would definitely be a failed state.

What is Civilian Supremacy?

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The Maoists are on war path now. The bone of contention is over the definition and interpretation of civilian supremacy. The Maoists have unveiled a series of protest programmes against the government to press for their demand of ‘civilian supremacy’. But it is not clear what exactly they mean by civilian supremacy.
According to the Maoists, the civilian supremacy is to respect the decision on the sacking of the then army chief Rookmangut Katwal taken by the Prachanda-led government. But the army chief issue has now been obsolete as the controversial general has already retired and another senior army officer has taken over the charge of the Nepal Army.
But the storm has not subsided as the Maoists have kept on raising this issue even more strongly these days. This is the issue that forced the Maoists to walk out of the government. Thus, it has become a matter of prestige for the Maoists and they want to make it a political issue among the people.
This issue came to the fore as the President stalled the decision of the Prachanda-led government on the sacking of the then army chief Rookmangut Katwal. Although the Prachanda-led government was technically in majority, Prachanda chose to resign preempting that the government would be in minority status because some coalition partners had already joined the bandwagon of opposition on the army chief issue. Prachanda’s resignation was a wise and politically honest decision as it was not politically appropriate and morally justifiable to try to remain in office even when the country’s executive chief’s decision was nullified by the ceremonial president.
The decision of sacking the army chief was taken when the government was well in majority. But the President had his own political compulsion and constitution obligation. The President did not act on his own volition but under compulsion as 18 political parties including the main opposition and also the allies of the coalition government, submitted a written request to intervene on the issue concerning the sacking of the army chief.
In a parliamentary system of governance, the executive chief has all authority. In Nepal’s case, the Prime Minister is the executive chief whereas the president is ceremonial. The duty and responsibility of the President are just to stamp the decision made by the government. But the unique situation arose on the issue of sacking the army chief as the 18 political parties including the coalition partners requested the President to act. The President was left with no alternative other than to defer the decision of the government. If there is any mistake on this issue, 18 political parties are responsible. If the decision of defer the government’s decision to sack the army chief was at all ‘unconstitutional’, the blame entirely goes to the 18 political parties and not to the President.
Then how the question of civilian supremacy arose? Civilian supremacy is the supremacy of the civilian government. Any government that is headed by someone other than the military administrator is civilian government. In the modern era, by civilian government everyone understands that it is a duly and democratically elected government. The government headed by non-elected executive head cannot be called a civilian government. In broad sense, Nepal has never been under military or non-civilian governments. But, as per the modern sense, the king’s rule was not a civilian government. It was a dictatorship that was given civilian face because the king always ruled with the backing and support from the military.
The real civilian government is possible only in genuine democracy in which people elect their representatives and their representatives rule the country. This only guarantees a civilian supremacy. In the case of Nepal, we had civilian government just for a brief period in 1960. The 1990 political change brought about an era of civilian government. But Nepal again fell into the trap of king’s dictatorship until the Jana Andolan II restored democracy and ultimately abolished monarchy.
If the adult-franchise based on multi-party system is the yardstick to form the civilian government, Prachanda is the first civilian prime minister after the Jana Andolan II. In the same token, Dr Ram Baran Yadav is the first civilian president, who was elected to this coveted position by the elected representatives of the people. Thus, the question of civilian supremacy does not arise in this connection.
So far as the issue of army chief is concerned, there are loopholes on either side. In the first place, Prime Minister took the decision when the coalition partners were opposed to it. That means the decision of sacking the army chief was not the decision of the majority government. Secondly, the president did not reverse this decision but asked to defer it temporarily. Thirdly, it was the decision taken by civilian authorities not by any military dictator. The very decision in itself is a proof of civilian supremacy.
But the real question is about the political and constitutional legitimacy. In terms of popular legitimacy, Prachanda was more legitimate as a prime minister than his predecessor Girija Prasad Koirala and his successor Madhav Kumar Nepal. Prachanda was directly elected by the people from two constituencies. Girija Prasad Koirala did not contest the election but secure the seat of the Constituent Assembly through nomination by his party based on the proportional representation. The present Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was rejected by the people from two constituencies and he was later nominated by the party in the Constituent Assembly. As the Nepali Congress under Koirala’s leadership and CPN-UML Madhav Nepal’s leadership performed poorly in the Constituent Assembly election, Koirala and Nepal are in a way losers. So far as the constitutional legitimacy is concerned, all three leaders are equally bona-fide as they are the members of the Constituent Assembly. Now, the focus should now been on the issue pertaining to who should lead the peace process—by those who have obtained better legitimacy or by those who were rejected by the people.
We can debate on the jurisdiction of the president and prime minister. Now parties can clearly include the provision regarding the authority of the president and the prime minister. But the ambiguity in language and words of the interim constitution has made this issue complicated. The Interim Constitution, on the one hand, makes it ceremonial while the same constitution has stated that the President is the Supreme commander-in-chief of the Nepal Army. When it comes to the decision on the Nepal Army, the Supreme Commander has the right to get to know it in advance.
So this present issue is not related to civilian supremacy. It is just an issue of power tussle. In the first place, the 18 political parties tried to drag the president into controversy. It is natural for the Maoists to be agitated because this is the issue that forced them to depart from the government. There are definitely mistakes on the part of the Maoists. The Maoists could have waited for another three months when the controversial army chief would have retired on normal circumstances. But they moved hastily which is the reason for this present crisis. But other parties are even more responsible for creating such controversy. Any legitimate government has the right to change the army chief at any time when the government is not satisfied with the performance. If the government’s move was unconstitutional or wrong, it could have been challenge dint he court and the court could have nullified the decision of the government. This would have been the better option. But 18 parties have compelled the president to take this move, which has been the bone of contention at present. It is now thus the responsibility of the 18 political parties to collectively defend the president.
Now precedent has been set that president can nullify the government’s decision. Such a precedent may be disastrous in future. Thus, the parties now have to settle this issue amicably and make sure that such a controversy may not arise again in future. For that they have to clearly demarcate, rights and duties of the president clearly without any ambiguity.

Discrepancy in Rhetoric and Actions

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The consensus is a buzz word in the present day politics of Nepal. The political parties—big or small—are talking tall of consensus and cooperation every now and then. However, the consensus seems to be elusive, despite rhetoric of the parties. This is so because of the arrogance and partisan interest of the political parties themselves.
The fact-sheet of the Constituent Assembly, which has the twin responsibilities of writing a new constitution and also working as a parliament, requires the parties to work together and to cooperate with one another to accomplish both these responsibilities. No political party has the mandate to form and run the government on its own strength. Although the Maoists are in the position of the largest party, they still do not have the required number of seats in the Constituent Assembly to form the government. It must acquire support of at least one of the major parties. However, it is even more difficult for other parties to run the government. They must take along at least a dozen parties if they want to lead the government. This is the case with the present government as it is the coalition of 22 parties. But given the present political equation and the nature of the job that the government has to accomplish, the consensus is a must.
More difficult and complicated is the process of the constitution writing. Unless the three major parties collaborate, the constitution cannot be written and promulgated. The Interim Constitution explicitly states that a two-third majority is required to pass any provision of the constitution that is being written. No single party has that strength. Even if all parties other than the Maoists unite, they will not have a two-third majority in the Constituent Assembly. That means the participation of the Maoists and their active and meaningful support is a must to pass the constitution. Without the Maoist support, the constitution cannot be written and peace process cannot be concluded.
But there are efforts from certain quarters both at home and abroad to isolate and corner the Maoists in this process. At home, the rightist and reactionary forces are acting at the behest of certain external anti-communist powers to keep the Maoists away from the political process. This would not be in the interest of the country. Any political move without the Maoist participation may not be successful in the present political scenario and that would be a disaster for the country. It must be taken into note that the Constituent Assembly and the republican set up are the Maoist agenda. The country would not have been republic without the Maoist support. The Maoists are, thus, the powerful agent for the present political change. Thus, isolating them from the political process would be detrimental to the democratization process in the country.
The Maoists are no doubt are communists and believe that ‘power comes out of the barrel of gun’. But one thing we must not forget is that it was the Maoists support and participation was crucial in bringing about political change three years ago. When the now deposed king had taken over power, marginalized the political parties and suppressed the democratic rights of the people, the parties were desperate as their street protest against the king had not gained any momentum. People were very reluctant to extend support to the parties and come to the street in support of the parties. This was because the parties had betrayed the people in the past and failed to keep their pledges made in the past. In the beginning political parties were against joining hand with the Maoists for any political activities. But circumstances compelled the parties to align with all anti-king forces so that their movement for restoration of democracy would succeed. It is against this background, the 12 point agreement was reached between the then seven political parties and the insurgent Maoist party. The election to the Constituent Assembly, writing a new constitution and republican system were the Maoist agenda which were accepted by the seven parties. This made the joint movement against the king possible which not only restored democracy but also abolished the monarchy ultimately.
Until the constituent Assembly election, the unity among the parties worked. Soon after the election results were out which placed the Maoist on the largest position, the problem started. The election results were shocking as no political party and even election watchers and analysts had not expected that result. What was more shocking was the poorer performance of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. The Maoists who were in supporting role had been cooperating with other parties. But when the Maoists emerged in a leading position and other parties were reduced to supporting role, the strategy of the Congress and the UML changed. Right from the beginning, they adopted the strategy of keeping the Maoists out of power. It is under this design that the formation of the new government was not allowed even four months after the election. But finally, other parties could not prove their majority and the Maoists were allowed to form the government.
But the political conspiracy continued even after the formation of the Maoist-led government. The Nepali Congress chose to remain out of power simply because its conditions were not accepted by the Maoists. The Congress right from the beginning was trying to topple the Maoist-led government. The CPN-UML, too, was not happy with the Maoists. The strategy of CPN-UML was to weaken the Maoists because the CPN-UML cannot regain as long as the Maoist are strong. The opportune moment arrived when the Maoists took unilateral decision to sack the then army chief. It provided the UML an excuse to walk out of the government.
The Maoists, too, are responsible for their failure. Although the issue of civilian supremacy they have been raising is logical, their inner motive is something different. It was definitely a failure of the Maoists not to take the coalition partners into confidence and convince them on the rationale and necessity of sacking the army chief. They should have waited three more months just to let Rookmangud Katwal to retire under regular process. If the Maoists had waited three more months, they would have been in the government even today. The Maoists are, thus, responsible for their departure from power.
The blame game has intensified and political of confrontation has replaced the politics of consensus. This would only delay and derail the constitution writing and peace process. Although it is the responsibility of all political parties to complete the constitution writing and peace process, it is the question who should lead role in this historic process. The parties in the government have to take the responsibility of leading this process. But the government must win the confidence of all parties in successfully writing the constitution and completing the peace process. But the government has not shown its ability to win the trust of all including the Maoists.
It seems that political parties are less concerned over the timely writing of the constitution and early conclusion of the ongoing peace process. Had they been serious on their promises and pledges, they would not have played the blame game and resort to the politics of confrontation. The Maoists are currently protesting both in parliament and on the streets. But a little has been done to address the concerns of the Maoists and end the political deadlock.
Given the political deadlock and the parties’ adamant posture, it looks that the political parties are more problem creators rather than solution seekers. Most of the problems that we are facing are created by the political parties and politicians. They are the major hurdle on the path of resolving the country’s pressing problems and completing the ongoing political and peace process. Under these circumstances, parties and leaders are need to rectify their mistakes and demonstrate little more sacrifice and flexibility to facilitate the political and constitution writing process. Otherwise, there is a chance of the country again sliding into the quagmire of conflict.

Congress for collective leadership

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The Nepali Congress is in labour pain—the pain it is going through to give a birth to institutional decision making process and collective leadership in the party. With the weakening health of aging GP Koirala, who held the mantle of the party leadership for almost two decades, the Nepali Congress is returning to the old concept of collective leadership.
When BP Koirala was in death bed, the founder of the Nepali Congress had advised his friends and followers in the Nepali Congress to adopt collective leadership. Even when BP was alive and leading the Nepali Congress, he had given due role and respect to other leaders in the party. BP always consulted with other leaders before taking any vital decisions of the party and tried to lead the party in a genuinely democratic way. This made BP the most revered leader within the party. After BP’s demise, the concept of troika emerged in the Nepali Congress party. As per this concept, Ganesh Man Singh Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Girija Prasad Koirala collectively led the party. Bhattarai was chosen as the party president, Singh as a supreme leader and Koirala as the general secretary of the party. This arrangement worked perfectly until the political change and establishment of democracy in 1990. When the Congress went to power after the 1990 political change, the problem surfaced in the leadership.
In the post 1990 political change, three distinct groups emerged in the party and they struggled to have upper hand in the party organization. These groups were mainly known as Ganesh Man Singh faction, Bhattarai group and Koirala camp. The simmering power tussle among the three factions turned ugly when KP Bhattarai, who had lost the election in 1991, contested the by-election in 1992 from Kathmandu’s Cosntituency-1. Girija Prasad Koirala had been elected Prime Minister after the Congress victory in 1991 general election. When Bhattarai contested the by-election, he was portrayed as the candidate who would immediately replace Koirala as the Prime Minister of Nepal if he won the election. This annoyed Koirala and his supporters and they openly came up opposing Bhattarai’s candidacy. Although both the camps made a patch up and reconciled, Bhattarai could not win the election as the friction between the two camps had already caused a huge damage to the party’s image. The mistrust could not be wiped away. Instead, the gulf between the two camps further widened.
This power tussle turned even uglier in 1994 when the government’s policies and programmes were defeated in parliament because of some lawmakers of the Nepali Congress who belonged to anti-Koirala camp. The defeat of government’s annual policies and programmes forced Koirala from premiership and announce snap polls. In the mid-term election, the Congress was reduced to second position in parliament whereas the opposition CPN-UML emerged as the largest party in the House.
This situation created political instability in the country as the governments were frequently changed. A few members could play the role of changing the government as no party had the majority to form the government. This is the period when the Maoist insurgency began and grew. The country fell into a quagmire of conflict for more than a decade, which caused a huge damage to the country. Now the situation has changed and peace has dawned after the political parties and the Maoists reached a peace agreement to manage the conflict in an amicable way.
The instability and conflict in the country is linked with the policies and their functioning of the parties in general and the Nepali Congress in particular. It has been a general practice that power struggle intensifies when the Congress goes to power. When the party remains in opposition, nothing happens but factional fighting begins soon it goes to power. This factional fighting ultimately led the split of the Nepali Congress. If the Congress had remained united, the Congress government would have fallen in 1994 even when it had the majority in the House. If the Congress government had completed its full five year term, the situation of instability and uncertainty would not have arrived. Koirala’s arrogance to corner the opposition parties as well as the dissidents within his own party pushed the country into conflict and instability.
The party leaders including Girija Prasad Koirala later realized this and made some efforts to unify the party and strengthen its organizational base. But this realization lived short and as soon as the party went to power, the leaders forgot everything and again started factional fighting. Although the two factions of the Congress united two years ago, leaders and workers are still in a divided mood.
The imbroglio in the Nepali Congress is at its height at present. The issue surfaced right after the Nepali Congress joined the Madhav Nepal-led government. As the Congress central committee failed to finalize the team to join the coalition government, party president Koirala was entrusted to take decision on this issue. Utilizing this opportunity, Koirala sent her own daughter Sujata Koirala to the cabinet leading the Congress team. This created furor in the party and several party leaders including party’s acting president and leader of the Congress parliamentary party objected this decision.
It is the first time that the party leaders have challenged and questioned Koirala’s decision since he assumed the position of party president. This is an indication of Koirala’s waning influence in the party. As his health has been deteriorating for the last couple of years, he is not regularly attending the meetings and other activities of the parties. Instead, he has named Sushil Koirala as the acting president of the party and delegated his authority. But he suddenly becomes active when the interest of the family and relatives is at stake.
But when it came to the selection of the ministers representing the Nepali Congress in the present coalition cabinet, he did not think necessary to formally discuss in the party’s apex body. The situation further worsened when Koirala exerted pressure on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to appoint his Sujata Koirala as the deputy prime minister, despite objection from the influential central leaders. In this way, Koirala acted in an authoritarian manner for which he has been under criticism.
Now the Nepali Congress is in cross road. Although Nepali Congress championed democracy and pluralism in principle, it was hardly put in practice when it comes to internal democracy in the party. The one-man rule prevailed and Koirala as the party president acted like an authoritarian leader which was against the long-cherished principle of the Nepali Congress. Girija Prasad Koirala is the senior most leader of the country, who fought for democracy and democratic ideals for more than five decades. It does not, thus, suit to a person of that stature to ignore the ideals and principles he fought throughout his life just for the interest of his family.
What the Congress leaders have raised is a genuine issue for the democratization of the party. This might mark an end to the one-man leadership and rule in the Nepali Congress. This is also the beginning of the collective leadership in the party.
In terms of principle and ideology, Congress is a social democratic party. But the problem lies on the implementation. The policies and practices it adopted for the last two decades since 1990 political change suggest that Nepali Congress has abandoned its long-cherished principle of democratic socialism Instead it has embraced ultra-capitalism. The discrepancy between the party’s official doctrine and practice is also a major problem in the party. This is a testimony that the Nepali Congress has not functioned in accordance with its ideals and principles. The entire problems emerged because of this discrepancy.
Now the time has come for the Nepali Congress to introspect its principles, policies and practices. The Congress must rectify the past mistakes and set a new direction for the democratization of the party. Collective leadership and democratic decision-making process are the hall marks of democracy. The Nepali Congress, thus, must discard the practice of one-man dictatorship in the party and adopt the pluralist and democratic culture in the decision making. Although painful, the current imbroglio would definitely bring about a new system, new culture and new process in the Nepali Congress party.

National Govt A Must

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The politics of consensus and cooperation among the political parties that began during the anti-king movement in 2005 came to an end after the election to the Constituent Assembly two years ago. Parties that had been talking tall of the consensual politics abruptly breached their own promises. And they are busy in calculating their partisan gains in the post-election scenario.
This situation arrived due to the unexpected outcome of the Constituent Assembly election. Prior to the election, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists had been portrayed as the underdog whereas the CPN-UML had been projected as the possible winner in the Constituent Assembly election. Although the media had projected UML’s better position in the election, the party was not confident of its win. The UML was not optimistic of its win because its position had been shaken due to the Maoists’ emerging strength nationwide. The Maoists’ rise had weakened UML’s organizational strength as many UML cadres had already joined the Maoists party. The UML leadership had realized this scenario. At the best, the UML had hoped the position of being the largest party in the Constituent Assembly but it was not hopeful of winning the majority. In such an eventuality, UML might need other parties’ support to form its government. Visualizing this situation, UML had advocated the politics of consensus.
So far as the Nepali Congress is concerned, it, too, had not hoped to win the majority in the Constituent Assembly. Since the Congress was heading the interim coalition government prior to the election, it was hopeful of leading yet another coalition government after the Constituent Assembly election if no party won the majority. As the Congress would not be able to form the government on its own strength, it would require support from other parties. Guided by this motive, the Congress was for a consensus government.
Prior to the Constituent Assembly election, the Maoists had been dubbed as the possible loser in the electoral politics. The armed chair opinion polls, political analysts and election watchers had predicted that the Maoists would end up in the third position in the election. The Maoists, too, were not confident of their position in the election. The Maoists had already tasted power being the part of interim coalition government headed by Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and they wanted to continue to be in power even after the election. As they had not been confident of their bigger presence after the election, the Maoists wanted to remain power as a part of the coalition government. For this purpose, the Maoists called for a consensus politics.
But the election results came out the way. The election results proved all election watchers, opinion polls and political analysts wrong. The election results put the Maoists on the first position, whereas the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML on the second and third position. The result was indeed a shocking for the Congress and the CPN-UML in the sense that they got far smaller seats compared to the Maoists. The election results were also unexpected for the Maoists, too, as they did not hope to get such a large number of seats. Also the emergence of the Madhasi parties also changed the political equation and scenario.
The election results forced the parties to change their strategy and tactics to cope with the newly emerged political situation. Since the Maoists emerged as the single largest force in the Constituent Assembly, they had legitimate right to claim the post of the executive heads. But they failed to realize the fact that their own strength was not sufficient to form the government. Taking advantage from the hung Constituent Assembly, other parties mainly the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Madhesh-based parties demanded bigger say and share in the post-election political equation. There was unanimity among all the parties for allowing the Maoists to head the government because of its dominant presence in the Constituent Assembly. Other parties sought their own role in the new power equation. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML staked claim in the chair of the president. Congress demand could be justified as it was the second largest party. At the same time, the Maoists and the UML also staked claim in this coveted position.
This was the beginning of the entire problem. In this power game, both the Maoists and the Congress tried to play one against the other party. In the power game, CPN-UML proved to be a novice. Despite much maneuvering, the parties got what they deserved based on their strength and position in the Constituent Assembly—no more and no less. But the Maoists were defeated in their political trick as all other parties got united to foil the Maoists design during the election for the president.
The Maoists got the premiership, Congress the president, UML the chairperson of the Constituent Assembly and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum the vice president. This was a perfect arrangement for power sharing. Although, the parties got their share as per their strength in the Constituent Assembly, they breached the politics of consensus for their partisan gains. The parties quickly ignored their own earlier rhetoric and.
Despite Maoists’ mistakes and failure in the election for the president and vice president, the Maoists were allowed to head the new coalition government. But the Nepali Congress refused to join the government, which is the beginning of the breach of consensus. The UML and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum joined the government which lasted for nine months. During this nine-month period, everything was going smoothly except some minor hiccups and hitches. But the atmosphere of mistrust heightened when the Maoists decided to sack the then army chief. Although the Maoists claimed that they had consulted duly with other coalition partners and taken their approval before taking final decision on sacking the army chief, other coalition partners walked out of the government the moment the decision was announced on the army chief issue. The Maoists’ decision could not be implemented as the president intervened and blocked the decision to sack the army chief. This is when the crisis began and Prime Minister Prachanda resigned.
Prachanda’s resignation paved the way for the formation of the non-Maoist government headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal. In bringing 22 parties into the coalition government lies Madhav Nepal’s ability to run the coalition government. But he has not been able to garner the support of the largest party—UCPN (Maoist). Instead he has constantly faced the wrath of the opposition both in parliament and on the streets.
The political maneuvering that started in Nepal’s political landscape soon after the election to the Constituent Assembly two years ago continues unabated even today. Now the Maoists are desperate to grab power whereas the present Prime Minister also seems to be prepared to do everything possible to retain his hold on power. This power tussle among the parties has pushed the main political agenda of constitution writing to the background. The success of the ongoing peace process hinges on the early writing of the new constitution. If the political parties continue to lock horn on power grabbing and power retaining issues, the constitution writing would definitely not be complete within the stipulated time, which would delay the peace process. The early writing of the constitution is a must. But the constitution may not be written in the absence of Maoists’ support. Thus, the formation of the national government is a must for successfully writing the constitution and concluding the peace process. In the past the parties talked of consensus and cooperation for their own partisan interest. But consensus is necessary for the country, democracy, stability and peace. The parties are, therefore, expected to behave and act responsibly putting the national interest on the top of all other agenda.

Koirala & State Restructuring

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

Although Nepal has, in principle, decided to adopt the federal structure, debate on the federal modal has entered a new dimension. Perhaps, it would be the thorniest issue that would consume more time and energy of the political parties in the Constituent Assembly in the process of drafting the new constitution.
The Interim constitution has defined Nepal as a federal democratic republic. All political parties except a couple of groups have been committed to the principle of federal Nepal. The idea of federalism in Nepal was first floated by the Maoists, which gained so much currency that it turned out to be the main political agenda of all parties. Bur political parties took the decision on federalism in such a haste that they did not even think it necessary to go for public debate on its pros and cons. This speaks of the authoritarian attitude of the parties that have taken the people just for granted.
Federalism is Maoist agenda. By convincing other political parties on the issue of federalism, the Maoists have been victors. The ex-rebels wanted a new issue and new agenda so that they could present themselves different from other parties both in terms of ideology and issues. The Maoists went even one step further advocating federalism with the right to self-determination. At the same time, they took up the issue of ethnicity because the ethnic conflict, according to the Maoists, was the most pressing issue in Nepal. They wanted to take political mileage by raising this issue and offering the dominant ethnic people their right to rule over other people. The Maoists tactics was to win over the ethnic groups and get their support for the party. This was purely a politicking of the Maoists and they reaped its benefit in the Constituent Assembly election.
As a matter of fact, federalism is not suitable in a small country like Nepal. The federalism based on ethnicity is even more dangerous in any country. The ethnicity based politics and states based on castes, religion and ethnicity were the ideas of the medieval period which are not compatible with modern age democracy. The modern democracy is a pluralist polity based on policies, programmes. This is also inconsistent with the Marxist political philosophy. Marxism does not allow politics based on castes, religion and ethnicity. The Maoists, whose policies and programmes are based on Marxist ideology and communist principles, must also be aware of this and they cannot be expected to push for ethnic politics.
Let us look at the international federal experience. Federalism has been successful in western democracies. The international experiences have shown that big countries that found it difficult to manage the vast expanse of their landmass from the centre opted for federalism. India and USA are the successful example of federalism. Most small countries have adopted unitary system because they can manage their affairs from the center. But they have granted full autonomy and decentralization of power to the local units of the government. Switzerland is an exception as it is a success story of federal system despite being a small country. Its federal model is unique and no other country in the world has been able to practice the Swiss model of federalism. Nepal is a small country in terms of size and population. Given its size, Nepal can easily manage its affairs. A unitary system with full authority and decentralization to local bodies would be better suited to Nepal. Moreover, Nepal which is already a poor and resource strapped country cannot afford for federalism because federalism is a costly venture.
The Maoists followed the Soviet model. Soviet Union was a huge country and it was impossible to manage perfectly only from Moscow. Moreover, Soviet Union was created by bringing different states together which had distinctly different languages, culture and value systems. Federalism with the right to self-determination was granted to Soviet federal states to ensure that there would not be any interference from Moscow on governance. But ultimately, Soviet Union collapsed and disintegrated because of federalism with the right to self-determination. Also other communist country that adopted federal structure was Yugoslavia, which has now been disintegrated into different countries. The rest of the communist countries did not follow federal structure and they could protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity intact.
In our neighbourhood, too, we have two great countries—India in the south and China in the north. Both of these countries are giants in terms of geographical size and population. But they have two different types of political system. India is a democracy of Westminster model whereas China is a communist state. India is federal country because its follows western political values. China has unitary system, despite it being a vast country. The present India needed to adopt the federal structure because this country was created by forcibly bringing different princely sates into the fold of British colonial rule. These states were kept together by the use of force until India was under British rule. Soon British were to leave India, this country was partitioned, out of which Pakistan was created. The partition of India had created fear among the leaders of independent India that others ethnic or lingual groups and regional enteritis may follow suit and demand separate states. If that happened, India might have been broken into different states. India, therefore, adopted federalism to discourage disintegration. But it has not solved India’s problem of separatist movement, which continues to exist in Kashmir, Nagaland and other parts of the country.
But China’s case is different. China has been a great power and big country for centuries. China did not feel it necessary to go for a federal state because of its ethnic composition of population and its long history of a unified nation. Creating federal system would mean to give rise to a feeling of separate identity among its population. Moreover, China is more or less a homogenous country and it was not built the way Soviet Union was created. After the Soviet Union collapsed and disintegrated, Russians have realized that there was a fundamental mistake in grating the right to self-determination. Moreover, the federal model is the western concept and it failed in the communist states. The Maoists should have learned lesson from this international experiences. Unfortunately, they pushed for this issue of federalism with the right to self-determination and ethnic and caste-based provinces not for the interest of the nation but for the interest of the party. Therein lies the fundamental flaw in the Maoist polices and strategies.
Nepal. Federalism is not a panacea for Nepal’s problems. Now time has come to review and reassess the pros and cons of the federal structure and rectify the mistake. More dangerous is the demand for creating caste or ethnicity based states within the federal Federalism may not be in the interest of the nation in the long-run, which our parties would realize only when damage will have been done. Now it seems that there is no going back because all political parties have committed to federal structure. The Maoists are not in the position of withdrawing from their stance as the federalism is their brain child. Nepali Congress and the CPN-UM, have toed the line of the Maoists. The Madhesi parties are set to reap maximum benefit from the federal structure and are pushing for one-Madhesh state, which, if granted, will be yet another disaster. The parties are cutting the country into different tiny provinces in the name of federal structure.
Against this background, the octogenarian leader Girija Prasad Koirala has come up vocally that all the models put forth by parties are flawed concept given the geo-political and geo-economic condition of the country. He has mooted the idea that the federal states should be divided along north-south line incorporating parts of Himalayan, Mountainous and Terai regions in the proposed federal states. Koirala’s proposal is akin to what we presently have—the five development regions. Given the country’s geographical condition, natural resources and demographic pattern, this concept seems to be more plausible for the larger interest of the country and the people.

Madhav, Nepal & UN

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

Prime Minister Madhav Nepal is in New York, USA with a pack of officials and his loyalists to take part in the 64th plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The UNGA is already in session in the UN Headquarters in New York and Prime Minister Nepal is expected to use the UN forum to apprise the international community of Nepal’s pressing problems, issues and their possible solution.
The Prime Minister has tight schedule. He has already addressed the UN Climate Summit hosted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. In his address, he has openly and clearly raised the environmental issues facing the world including Nepal. In another function, he has raised the international security system and hailed the role played by the United Nations in the international peace-keeping operation. Nepal has been sending its peace-keeping troops to different troubled spots in the world at the call of the United Nations. Nepal wants to increase its contribution to the UN peace keeping mission provided the Himalayan republic gets more logistic support from the world body. It is a big support Nepal has been extending to the United Nations. In response, the world body has also been providing its material and other supports for Nepal’s social and economic development through its different specialized agencies.
Apart from addressing the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Nepal has some other schedules including meeting with several heads of states or governments from different countries. This would, certainly, be a unique opportunity for Nepal’s prime minister to share and exchange views on several international issues as well as Nepal’s own problems. He used this opportunity to meet with US president Barrack Obama and several other heads of state and government from different countries in the world. During the meeting with the world leaders in general and US president Obama and British Prime Minister Brown, he discussed bilateral and international issues and shared their views on tackling the problems facing the world.
Nepal is currently in difficult phase of history. It is in the process of transforming the country into a democratic republic. Already suffered from acute poverty, backwardness and more than a decade-long armed conflict, Nepal has entered into a new era which is sure to herald a prosperous and brighter future of its citizens. This is an instance that Nepal has been capable to manage its violent conflict on its own strength. There was definitely support, both moral as well as material, from the international community. Be it the process of development or democratization, the international community is always supportive to Nepal. The United Nations, United States, United Kingdom and some other developed countries have been instrumental in Nepal’s development and peace.
The peace process that is underway must be concluded successfully so that permanent peace, stability and prosperity would be ensured in the Himalayan republic. As an important part of the peace process, Nepal is now busy in writing the new constitution which would formally institutionalize the achievements of the Jana Andolan II that made the monarchy a history. As Nepal is in the process of institutionalization of peace and democracy, the United Nations has played a pivotal role.
The United Nations is providing its direct support to Nepal’s peace process. The United Nations Mission in Nepal or UNMIN is supervising the peace process and monitoring the management of the arms and army. The management of the Maoist arms and combatants is a key component of the peace agreement reached between the Maoists and the Nepal government about four years ago. The peace process cannot be concluded without properly managing the Maoists combatants and their arms. In this process, the United Nations has a key role in Nepal. Although there are some lacunas in the UNMIN’s role in Nepal, UN’s presence and its support are a must for concluding the peace process.
Moreover, Nepal attaches greater importance to the UN role in the international peace and order, which the Prime Minister has duly spoken. This can be substantiated by the fact that the adherence to the UN Charter and its ideals have been the fundamental basis of Nepal’s foreign policy. Nepal always wants stronger and more effective United Nations so that the world body can more effectively deal with the conflict and crisis in the world. Although there are plenty of people who are critical of the role of the United Nations on a number of international issues, they have not been able to present the alternative to the United Nations. Given the complex international situation and growing crisis, we cannot imagine the world without the United Nations. It is true that UN has not been effective on several issues in the world. But it is not because of the lack of will of the world body but because of the lack of resources. If the UN has to be more effective and strengthened, it has to be more equipped with resources. At present the UN is facing financial crisis because some of the richer countries have not contributed to the UN as per their pledges. Nepal’s fundamental concern is that UN must be made stronger and more resourceful so that it can act more effectively on the issues plaguing the world.
The most pressing problem that has emerged lately is the climate change. All the countries in the world have already felt the impact of the climate change. The climate change is likely to create a wide range of economic, social and environmental problems. As the weather pattern has witnessed a change in the world, it may cause food shortage and food insecurity. Similarly, the climate change and environmental catastrophe would have negative impact on human health. As a result, the poor and least developed countries would suffer more from poverty, hunger and disease accompanied by social and political unrest. If this trend is not reversed, the situation of the developing counties would deteriorate and these countries would not be able to achieve the millennium development goals (MGDs) by 2015. This situation requires the United Nations to act promptly to address the issue of climate change. But the UN cannot act unless the member states express their resolve collectively and provide their support which is at their disposal. But the onus lies more on the richer countries which can make the UN more resourceful in launching programmes to fight the climate change because the role and activities of the richer nations are more responsible for the climate change.
In addition, the Prime Minister has sought more moral and material support from the world community for Nepal’s peace, democratization and social sectors. The Prime Minister’s call has, of course, been received well by the international community. More importantly, the American President Obama’s invitation to Prime Minister Nepal for a formal meeting and talks is an indication that America now attaches importance to Nepal’s present regime.
After the conclusion of the peace process, even more important phase would begin in Nepal—that is the reconstruction and development. The reconstruction and development works would require a huge fund which Nepal does not have in its possession. Thus, Nepal will have to depend upon the international community for financing the reconstruction and development projects. The international community is definitely sympathetic to the Mahav Nepal led-government and if the present regime understands this gesture properly and utilizes this opportunity Nepal can get more meaningful support from the international community. Herein lies the test of ability of the present government headed .

Retrospection of Communist Movement in Nepal

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

The April 22 and September 15 are the momentous days for Nepal’s communists. Different communist groups in Nepal mark these two days with enthusiasm and fanfare. The April 22 is the founding day of the Communist Party of Nepal while the September 15 is the day when the manifesto of the communist party of Nepal was first declared.


As Nepal’s communists lock horn on every issue, these two dates are also not free from controversy. The Nepali communists are divided on the date of founding day of the communist party in Nepal. Most communist parties including the CPN-UML and the Maoists are of the belief that the April 22 is the founding day of the Communist Party in Nepal. They claim that the September 15 is the day when the manifesto of the Communist Party of Nepal was issued.
But some other groups do not agree with this and claim that the communist party was formally formed with the announcement of its manifesto which falls on September 15, 1949. According to them, the communist party is the party of ideology and programmes and the birth of the Communist Party of Nepal marks with the issuance of political doctrine or manifesto.
Until 1961, the communist party was one and unified. There was no divided opinion on the issue of the party’s founding day. The communist party split in 1962 and the process of fragmentation continued. After the split, different groups came into existence and they professed diverse arguments and opinions on different issues. On the issue of the founding day as well, views differed. In 1974, a faction came into being in the name of Communist Party of Nepal (Congress Congress), which kicked off the controversy regarding the founding day of the communist party. This group claimed the September 15 as the birth of the Communist Party of Nepal.
Whatever the arguments and counter arguments, the facts have proved that the Communist Party of Nepal was formed on April 22, 1949 as the youngest communist party of Asia. Late Pushpa Lal Shrestha took the initiative to form the communist party in Nepal and is, thus, regarded as the father of Nepal’s communist movement. Pushpa Lal Shrestha, who is the party’s founder general secretary, has written that the party was formed on April 22, 1949 in Shyam Bazar area in Calcutta. In the beginning there were only five members, who are revered as the founding members of the Communist of Nepal. The five founders are Pushpa Lal Shrestha, Nar Bahadur Karmacharya, Narayan Bilas Joshi, Niranjan Govinda Vaidya and Moti Devi. Accordingly, the manifesto of the communist party was prepared and announced in September 15 of the same year.
When the communist party was born, Nepal was under the Rana’s oligarchic rule. All civil and political rights had been denied during that period. The feudal system was strong and it was protected by the state. It was, thus, necessary to fight two-pronged war simultaneously—one against feudalism and other against the then ruling Rana regime. During that period, some other political organizations had already been established and they were mobilizing people against the Rana rule. The Nepali Congress was among them and it was the largest and strongest force during that time. Those organizations had only political motive and aimed at overthrowing the Rana regime and establish the multi-party democracy.
For a communist party, this was not sufficient. The initial objective of the Communist Party of Nepal was, of course, the overthrow of the oligarchic Rana rule and establishment of democracy in the country. However, it was also necessary to liberate people from all forms of feudal exploitation and discrimination and ultimately establish a communist government.
The manifesto of the Communist Party minutely explained the historical background of Nepal’s political, social and economic situation, analysed the existing political scenario and underscored the need for liberate the country and the people from the feudal and dictatorial regime and external domination. The manifesto also emphasized to empower the economically, socially and culturally exploited and discriminated people and make them the real masters of the country and also to guarantee democratic rights and total freedom to the people. The contents and language of the manifesto prove that unlike other parties the communist party, right from the beginning, has been championing political freedom, democracy and economic rights and equality.
After the communist party was born, it slowly started expanding its organization and mobilizing people in the country. The party became the attraction for the masses especially the poor and downtrodden. Many young revolutionaries soon joined the communist party. The fast growth of the communist party was perceived as a serious threat not only to the then regime but other political organizations as well. As political organizations and activities were banned in Nepal, most political parties and organizations were active in India from where they had been launching their activities against the Rana regime. But it was the communist party that decided to work secretly within Nepal and organize people for the movement.
At that time, the communist movement was vibrant globally. The victory of the Bolsheviks ‘s revolution led by V I Lenin and establishment of the communist system in the Soviet Union (now Russia) inspired the communists and revolutionaries all over the world to push for armed revolution. Several countries in the Eastern Europe, too, had already established communist governments. In the neighbouring China, communists under the leadership of Mao Zedong launched a successful armed revolution and established communist regime. Even in India, the communists had been rising vibrantly and they were seen as a threat to the ruling elites mainly the Congress party’s government in New Delhi. As communists in Nepal had strong links and had received sympathy and support from Indian communists and revolutionary groups, the Indian establishment started casting evil eyes on Nepal’s communists. As a result, a nexus was built between the Indian establishment and Nepal’s feudal elements and other anti-communist groups including the Nepali Congress against the communist force in Nepal.
As the mass movement was in its height against the Ranas, a tripartite agreement known as the ‘Delhi Agreement’ brokered by India was reached among the Nepali Congress, the then King Tribhuvan and the Rana regime. As per the tripartite agreement, the Nepali Congress gave up the movement and joined the Rana-led cabinet. But the communist party opposed the Delhi Agreement and termed it as a betrayal of people’s movement. The party called for a continuous movement to overthrow the Rana regime once and for all. The communist party also flayed the Nepali Congress for joining hands with the Rana regime against which the people had been fighting.
The open defiance of the ‘Delhi Agreement’ further unified India, Nepali Congress and the King against the communist party in Nepal. As the communist party intensified its movement, the government banned the party and its activities. It was a big irony that a political party that fought to establish the multi-democracy was banned after the democratic system was established. Although banned, the communist party continued to exist and carry out its activities secretly. Even after the ban, the anti-communist elements both within and outside the country conspired to infiltrate into the party and fragment it. As a result of infiltration, the communist party split in 1962.
Now there are more than a dozen communist parties in Nepal each claiming to be the genuine representatives of the people and accusing the other of deviating from the communist principles. Now there are two streams of communist movement in Nepal—one is a parliamentary stream represented by the CPN-UML and the other is a radical stream led by the UCPN-Maoists. These two groups have stiff competition to prove their worth in the Nepali politics. But time will tell which one genuinely represents the feelings of the people.

Why Parties Repeating Mistakes?

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

History repeats but it repeats more often in Nepal’s political parties. Our leaders seem to be so short sighted and a bad memory that they forget the events and mistakes immediately. They, therefore, keep on repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
This is a common and chronic problem in all political parties of Nepal. Now is the time that all political parties need to develop a common understanding and work in a collective and cooperative way so that the political mission with which the country is moving ahead can be achieved and accomplished. The Interim Constitution, too, has clearly stated that there must be collective decision, compromise and consensus among the major political parties to govern and take any decision that may have far-reaching impact on the life the country and the people. But that is hardly in practice when it comes to Nepal’s applied politics of today.
Parties are far apart on national issues. Nepal is passing through the gravest crisis in history. The law and order is at the lowest ebb. The feeling of insecurity has haunted the people. The problem is more acute in several Terai districts, some mountainous district of eastern Nepal and urban centers including the Kathmandu Valley. The cases of threat, extortion, bombing, robbery and even killing have been a daily phenomenon. The law enforcement agencies are weak and ineffective in curbing violence and criminal activities. As the government is weak and ineffective, people often resort to strike and closure to make their voices heard and to press for their demands. The frequent strikes are the product of this reality and mentality which have created tremendous problems to the people.
Having already felt insecure, the condition of the people is getting further complicated due to unbridled price hike of essential commodities. At times, the black marketers and hoarders create artificial shortage of daily essentials and services taking advantage from the poor law and order and country’s transitional period. As a result, the life of people is getting unbearable as their income is hardly sufficient to survive and support their family.
The economy is going down. The country is facing perennial power outage, which has not only made people’s life difficult but also had a serious impact on production and industrial growth. The UN human development report has put Nepal at the lowest rank in South Asia in terms of its economic, social and human resource development. If the present trend continues, the country is likely to witness further decline in its economic viability.
Looking at the political front, the scenario is further bleak. The country is now in the process of writing a new constitution as an important part of the ongoing peace process. The peace process began with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Treaty between the government and the Maoist party that had been fighting a guerilla war to establish a communist state. With the signing of the treaty, the Maoists gave up armed insurgency and entered into peaceful politics. This was a great achievement as this historic event provided a sense of optimism for peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal.
However, things did not move ahead as expected even after the signing of the peace treaty. The peace process is faltering. The Constituent Assembly election, which was an important part of the peace process, was held after being postponed twice. Even after the Constituent Assembly election that put the Maoists on the largest position, has not brought about more optimism and enthusiasm. The hung Constituent Assembly invited more instability as we have seen the change of government in eight months. This is an indication that parties are interested more in grabbing and retaining power rather than working for the interest of the country and the people.
One thing must be mentioned here that people had almost lost their hope and trust on the parties in the past. The activities of the political parties in the 13 years after the 1990 political change made the people apathetic to politics as parties focused more on partisan and personal gains and did not pay due attention to the problems of the people. It can be substantiated by the poor show in the protest of the political parties when the then king Gyanendra took over power and imposed his direct rule. But people did not respond overwhelmingly. It was because the parties had lost faith of people due to their lackluster performance in the past. It was only after the leaders publicly apologized and expressed commitment not to repeat the past mistakes, did the people came overwhelmingly to the street that toppled the kings’ regime.
After the success of Jana Andolan II, people had expected that parties would change their behaviors. But people’s expectations were soon dashed as the parties and leaders again got bogged down in the dirty power politics instead of politics to empower people. This power game took uglier turn after the Constituent Assembly election. The government could not be formed for more than four months after the results of the election were out. The open chasm and sharp division appeared during the election of the president and vice president. Parties were polarized into two poles—Congress-led alliance and the Maoist-led front. In the election for the president and the vice president, the Maoists were defeated. This sowed the seed of breach of the unity among the parties.
The Maoist had the legitimate right to lead the government as it had emerged the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. But efforts were made not to let the Maoists to form the government. After much ruckus, the Maoists were able to bring together other parties and form the government. Although the Maoist-led coalition government was formed, serious efforts were made to pull down this government right from the beginning. At the same time, the Maoists were also not able to understand the feelings and concerns of the coalition partners and carry them along. There had already been some serious differences among the coalition partners on several issues and that difference broke out openly when the issue of the ouster of the army chief came to the fore. This broke the coalition and the Prachanda-led government collapsed. As a result the new government headed by UML leader Madhav Nepal is now in place. But this government, too, has been facing the similar problems the earlier government had faced.
The politics of unity and consensus has been broken. The breach of consensus politics is the breach of spirit of the Interim Constitution. The spirit of if Interim Constitution is that all issues should be settled through consensus among major political parties. In the breach of this constitutional provision, all political parties are responsible. The Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and Madhesi parties are to be blamed for the violation of the constitution. Now time is running short but parties still can correct their mistakes and again work together as per the constitutional provision at least until the new constitution is promulgated and the ongoing peace process is successfully concluded.

Chronic Cronyism Ruins Parties

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

It appears as though Nepal’s political parties are more like the gang of cronies than the political organizations. Some influential leaders are trying to turn the parties into their family business rather than political entity. This is not an isolated phenomenon of any particular party or leader but a general tendency in Nepal.
There are scores of political parties in existence in Nepal. In the Constituent Assembly held last year, 49 political parties registered in the Election Commission and contested the polls. Of them, only 25 political parties have their presence in the Constituent Assembly. If we look at their internal politics and activities, most of them are suffering from factionalism and power rivalry.
The bigger the party is the bitterer is the bickering in the leadership and internal life of the organization. Now look at the power struggle and factional fighting in these parties. Let us first analyze the UCPN-Maoist because it is the largest political party in the Constituent Assembly.
To look on the surface, the party is united and most disciplined. Generally, communist parties are considered to have strong discipline. But leadership cult and factionalism is more in the communist parties than other parties. Different groups exist in the communist party. Each group tries to give ideological colour to their factional fighting. As a result, the power struggle grows so intensely that different groups find it difficult to remain as a one entity. They then split and form different parties. If we look Nepal’s communist parties, there are more than a dozen groups claiming to be a genuine communist party and true representatives of the oppressed, downtrodden and working class people.
The Communist Party of Nepal was formed in 1949. Soon after its formation chasm appeared in the party and the process of split began. The Maoist party came into existence in the process of split and reorganization of the communist party. This party is not only the largest communist party in Nepal but also the biggest political force of Nepal at present. This fact was established after the Constituent Assembly election held last year in which the Maoists won clear-cut majority in the first-past- the post system of election. The Maoists were short of majority in the Constituent Assembly because of the proportionate electoral system. Had there not been proportionate election, the Maoists would have been in comfortable majority in the Constituent Assembly.
Factional fighting is fierce in the Maoist party. Right from the beginning, two distinct groups are visible in it. One was led by Prachanda and the other by Dr Baburam Bhattarai. The Prachanda-led group was strong whereas Baburam’s faction was in minority in the past. But the equation in the party changed after the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Treaty and joined the peaceful politics. The new situation brought Prachanda and Baburam closer whereas Mohan Vaidya led the disgruntled group. Apart from Prachanda-Bauram group and Vaidya-led group, Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal” has his own small group known as ‘middle-path’ faction. The Prachanda and Vaidya groups have their own approach which came to the fore officially in the recently held central committee meeting. In central committee meeting, the Vaidya group emerged so strong and forceful that Prachanda had to make some compromises and agreed to change the policies with due accommodation of the views expressed by the majority members. In the meeting, majority of the central committee members openly accused the leadership of deviating from revolutionary and proletariat path. Under pressure from the central committee members, the leadership agreed to form a panel to probe property and other activities of the Maoist leaders. This decision has been taken as a victory of Vaidya group on ideological ground.
The cronyism in the other mainstream communist party—CPN-UML— is more fierce and uglier. The factional fighting in this party, too, is perennial. But the equation has changed very often. This party was split once due to this factional fighting. Now there are two distinct groups in the CPN-UML-- one led by party chairperson Jhala Nath Khanal and other led by KP Oli. Madhav Nepal tends to be neutral but he is closer with the Oli group at present. Although Oli lost to Khanal in the election for the party chairperson in the national congress held in February this year, it was believed that Oli camp had majority in the central committee. The balance has recently tilted to Khanal because Ishwor Pokhrel, who had earlier been critical of Khanal, suddenly changed his loyalty and joined Khanal camps. After the national congress the two camps have been fighting bitterly to have sway in the party leadership. This ugly power tussle between these two groups came to the fore in public when the Khanal group used its authority to dissolve the influential district committee of Kathmandu, which is believed to be dominated by Oli supporters. So far, the factional fighting has been confined to ‘war of words’. But if not managed and resolved in time, this may take an ugly turn and may lead to party split as well.
The factional fighting is a long and permanent disease in the Nepali Congress as well. Right from its formation, the Nepali Congress has been blighted by tussle between the two camps. In the beginning, BP Koirala faced severe challenge from Matrika Koirala, Subarna Sumsher and Surya Prasad Upadhaya. However, he managed to accommodate the dissent successfully. After the death of BP, three distinct factions appeared in the Congress. They are: Girija Koirala group, Ganesh Man camp and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai faction. The factional fight turned uglier after the 1990 political change and formation of the Nepali Congress government headed by GP Koirala. Ganesh Man Singh, the commander of the 1990 popular movement, at one time had to announce his disassociation with the Nepali Congress party because of the heightened factional feud in the party. Similarly, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai chose to remain away from the party’s mainstream politics. Even after this, the factions in the Nepali Congress and their bickering have continued to exist. Sher Bahadur Deuba emerged as a leader of anti-Koirala faction. This factional fighting led to split in the Nepali Congress, in which Deuba played a catalytic role and formed his own party called Nepali Congress (Democratic). Although these two parties were reunified a few years ago, leaders and workers complain that the emotional unification is yet to be made.
The other parties also have not been free from the factional fighting and its fallout. Only recently, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum became the victim of this internal feud and the party was split into two groups—one headed by Upendra Yadav and the other by Bijaya Gachhadar. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has been split into three groups—RPP, RPP, (N) and Nepal Janashakti Party.
Parties are the strength of the multi-party democracy. But the parties are getting fragmented because of their failure to manage the internal differences. The other reason of party split and fragmentation is the cronyism culture in the leaders. Leaders want to run the parties not on democratic basis through collective approach but want to capture party and run it through their cliques and cronies. Parties cannot be strong and effective unless the leaders shake off the culture of cronyism. It is now high time that the leaders understand the feelings of the people exhibit genuine democratic culture.

Who Inherits The Legacy of CPN?

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

It is going to be 50 years since the communist party was founded in Nepal. All communist groups are expected to mark this eventful year in their own way. The CPN-UML has already announced to observe the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Nepal with fun and fanfare in October this year. For this, a committee headed by party’s senior vice chairman Bamdev Gautam has already been formed.
The Communist Party of Nepal was founded on April 28, 1949. The party was announced in Calcutta by Puspa Lal Shrestha, Niranjan Govinda Vaidya, Narayanbilas Joshi and Nrbahadur Karmacharya. Puspa Lal Shrestha was chosen as the founder general secretary of the party. Puspa Lal, in one of his write ups, has said that they decided to include Moti Devi, who was not present at the time of the formation of the party, as the founding member of the party. On the same day of the formation of the party, a manifesto of the Communist Party of Nepal was issued outlining the programmes and priorities of the Nepali revolution.
When the communist party was formed, Nepal was under Rana family rule. The anti-Rana movement had been gaining momentum and the Nepali Congress was the leading force to mobilize the people against the Ranas. Since the party was formed during the period of Rana regime, its primary objective was to overthrow the Rana‘s oligarchic rule and establish multi-party democracy. However, it slong-term goal was to establish a communist state where the power would be at the hand of the proletariats led by the Communist Party.
Although formed with revolutionary zeal and goal, the communist party remained weak for some years to come. It was partly due partly to the inability to expand organization in the initial phase and party owing to a ban imposed by the government. The communist party remained weak in terms of organizational hold at the grassroots level for some years. Soon after its formation, the party was caught in ideological differences among its leaders, which ruined its activities. The poor performance of the party in the first general election held in 1959 was the testament of political and ideological conflict among its leaders. The Communist party won merely four seats out of the 109 total seats of the Lower House of Parliament.
The ideological differences further deepened after the king Mahendra’s coup that disbanded the elected government and banned parties. Two sets of opinions appeared within the party with one faction supporting the king’s authoritarian move while the other condemning it. A faction led by Keshar Jung Rayamajhi supported the king’s move while Puspa Lal and his group dubbed the king’s move as an anti-democratic and reactionary action. Puspa Lal proposed decisive movement to establish a democratic system in Nepal.
This was the beginning of the split in the communist party. In the years to come, the split in the communist party continued. As a result, we have more than a dozen parties with the name of communist party. Although we have many splinter communist factions currently claiming to be the mainstream of the communist movement in Nepal, two communist parties are the major forces to reckon with in terms of organizational strength and support in the grassroots level. They are the CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist.
They are two identical twins—be it their origin, strategy, organizational development and attitude of their leaders. The CPN-UML carries the legacy of “Jhapa Andolan” in which several people were killed in the name of ‘class enemy annihilation’. The beginning of this party was violent with resorting to killing. This group later came to be known as the CPN-ML, which gave up the armed insurgency following the brutal suppression by the government. When its so-called armed insurgency was suppressed by the state, the CPN-ML then focused on expansion of organization. Coming to late 80s, this party had a national presence with strong organizational strength. The two-line struggle that had long been in practice within the organization came to an end during its fourth congress in which the party abandoned the path of revolution and adopted the peaceful approach to acquire political freedom, which in other words was multi-party democracy .
The CPN-ML had been formed as some young revolutionaries were dissatisfied with policies, approach and programmes of the Puspa Lal led communist party. In the initial phase, the CPN-ML condemned the Puspa Lal’s policy of multi-party democracy dubbing him a ‘revisionist and betrayer” but ultimately this group came to embrace the same policy Puspa Lal had championed long ago. With this approach and policy, the CPN-ML participated and played crucial role in the 1990 democratic movement as a major constituent of the United Left Front. Soon after the success of the1990 democratic movement, the CPN-Marxist headed by the Manmohan Adhikari and CPN-ML led by Madan Bhandari were unified to form CPN-UML, which gave up the revolutionary romanticism and embraced the parliamentary path. The UML adopted the ‘ Janatako Bahudaliya Janabad’ (People’s Multi-Party democracy of PMDP) proposed by Madan Bhandari as a guiding political doctrine, which, in essence, is totally western model of liberal democracy.
With UML going the parliamentary way, the other communist group, until then far smaller than the UML, turned to jungle war renouncing the parliamentary path. The party that had won just nine parliamentary seats out of the total 205 in the general election held in 1991. This party along with other fringe communist groups formed a Maoist party that launched armed insurgency to arrive at the present stage. In the present scenario, this party is the largest and strongest as it has won the largest number of seats in the Constituent Assembly Election. Arriving at this stage, the Maoist party, too, has traveled a tumultuous political journey. Already exhausted from the decade-long guerilla war, this party has come to accept the peaceful politics as a means to go to power. This party has now been back to the political path it once renounced. The Maoists thought that the parliamentary politics was unsuitable for true communists and took up arms with the belief that ‘power comes only through the barrel of guns’. Coming to this stage, the Maoists transformed from the ‘ Prachanda Path’ to ‘ Democracy of 21st century’, which is yet another transformation from orthodox communism to modern social democratic approach.
The ideological vacillation has been the marked characteristics of the Nepalese communists—be it the Maoists, CPN-UML or the other fringe communist groups. This is the main reason behind the split in the communist parties. But lately, there has been a process of reunifying the fragmented movement. In this process, both the UML and the Maoists are trying to bring other communists into their fold.
But the fundamental question remains far from resolved. The question is: who represents the legacy of the communist party that was formed fifty years ago. Even its founders have been divided. Puspa Lal was once condemned by both the CPN-UML and the Maoists. The UML has now reinstated Puspa Lal as a true communist and revolutionary.
On ideological ground, these two mainstream communist parties are in the process of demonizing one another. The CPN-UML has dubbed the Maoist party as unrealistic and ultra-leftist deviation, whereas the Maoists term the UML as a party that has degenerated into rightist and revisionist deviation. But none of them are in their original political ideology. Their ideology and approaches are just a means for going to power. The UML thought that armed revolution was not suitable more than three decades ago. The Maoists have realized it just recently.
The political battle between these two communist groups at present is not based on ideology but on the approaches to acquire and retain power. One thing is sure that the two strong communist groups may not be in existence for the long time. Now the Maoists and the CPN-UML are both in the strong position in the grassroots level in terms of their organization and number of cadres. But this position would not last long. One has to replace the other. In the battle for existence, it is not sure which party would outdo the other. Only time would show which would carry the legacy of the mainstream communist party. That would be final, perhaps, in the next general election.

Partisan Interests Mars Constitution Writing

By Yuba Nath Lamsal

Old habits die hard. This is truly applicable to our political parties. Given the activities and performances over the last three years, it seems that our political parties and leaders have not learnt the lessons from the history. They are repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
In the multi-party democracy, parties are the key players and the genuine protector of democratic system. It is with this belief that people entrusted the political parties and came to the streets to rally against the tyrannical regimes in the past. Be it in 1951 or 1990 and 2005, people gave full support to the parties which overthrew the authoritarian regimes and put the democratic polity in place. Each time when the parties went to power after the success of the movement, they have not lived up to the expectations of the people. People have a feeling that parties have often betrayed them once they are voted to power.
After the 1951 political change, which could be possible with the massive support of the people, parties and leaders got bogged down in more in power grabbing than in consolidating the democratic system. The dirty power struggle did not even spare commanders of the 1950/51 democratic revolution like BP and Matrika Koirala. The sharp difference between the two Koirala brothers was not based on principle and values but on issues who should go to power. As BP prevailed in the party, Matrika walked out of the Congress and formed his own party just to go to power. As a reward for breaking the mother party, the King appointed Matrika Koirala Prime Minister. During this period, many other parties sprang up in the Nepali political scenario. These parties fought bitterly among themselves which gave a good opportunity for the king to play one party against the other. As a result, the king consolidated his power and weakened the parties and also the democratic polity. Had there been unity among the parties, the elections could have been held quite early which would have strengthened democracy and would not allow the king to manipulate. The king grabbed the opportunity and sacked the democratically elected Prime Minister only to impose his absolute regime.
Although the king’s ambition and conspiracies were chiefly responsible for the set back to democracy in 1961, the parties and their ugly power bickering was also partially responsible for this incident. As a result, the country had to remain under king’s absolute regime for 30 long years. But parties still did not learn lesson from it. Even after the king’s coup and imposition of one-party Panchayat regime, Nepalese parties did not unite for the sake of democracy. They were so divided that their fighting only prolonged the longevity of the Panchayat regime. The Nepali Congress and the communists who enjoyed the support of the Nepali people took each other as their arch foe and they never came to a common platform so that a joint movement could have been launched against the king’s regime. Nepali Congress adopted anti-communist policy and chose to make an alliance with the king rather than working together with the communists. The communists, too, took the Nepali Congress as their enemy number one.
The situation changed and both the Nepali Congress and the communists also realized the importance and strength of the unity and joint movement. In 1990, the Nepali Congress and communists agreed to launch a joint movement against the king’s regime in which people overwhelmingly participated, thanks to Ganesh Man Singh’s determined leadership. The people’s power finally triumphed and multi-party democracy was restored in the country.
But the unity and collaboration soon broke between the forces that had worked together during the movement. It was not only between the parties but fighting and bickering intensified within the parties as well. As a result, the country saw a height of instability and frequent change of government in the period after 1990 movement. The poor service delivery and rampant corruption gave rise to public apathy towards the parties and leaders. Out of this situation, the Maoist insurgency emerged, which virtually paralyzed the country politically. The king tried to take advantage out of the situation and again imposed his absolute rule.
The parties began agitation against the king. But people did not come out in their support as they were fed up with these parties and leaders. The people’s hesitation to come out to the street was not because they were against democracy but because they had a little faith on the political parties and their leaders. There was no compatibility between the words and action of the leaders. Their street protests did not attract people for three years. But the leaders finally realized their mistakes and publicly apologized that they would not repeat the mistake of running after power again. After this only, people poured into the streets which forced the king to bow down and established democracy.
But people’s trust has soon evaporated and the parties again have shown their true faces— be it the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, the Maoists or other parties. The period after the constituent assembly election has seen the same old partisan practice. Power and positions appear to be dearer to our leaders than the interest of the country and the people. If that was not the case, the parties would not have been so preoccupied with the ugly battle of grabbing and retaining power. The fundamental agenda has taken to a back seat whereas other frivolous issues have dominated the debate and activities in the constituent assembly that was formed to write a new constitution. If the same lackluster attitude and partisan interests of the parties continue, it is very unlikely that the new constitution would be written in time.
The Interim Constitution clearly states that the writing of the new constitution must be completed within two years since the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held. It has already been fifteen months since the first meeting of the constituent assembly was convened. If analyzed the activities of the constituent assembly over the last 15 months, this period has not at all been encouraging. The people’s representatives, who were elected by the people to write the constitution, got engaged more on partisan issues rather than on the issues related to the constitution making.
The glaring example of parties’ lack of interest in the main task of constitution writing is the continued obstruction of the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. In the process of blocking the works of constituent assembly/parliament, all major parties are responsible. But the Maoists are ahead of other parties. The other issue that indicates the parties’ laxity in the constitution making is the failure to choose the chairperson of the Constitutional Committee. This committee is the mother of all thematic committees of the Constituent Assembly. In the absence of the chairperson of this committee, much of the works relating to the constitution writing has been hampered. The chair of this committee has been vacant for more than three months ever since the Madhav Kumar Nepal was elected Prime Minister. But parties are not serious on this matter and they are rather scrambling to grab this post, which is yet another example of partisan politics and personal interest.
As a result of parties’ nonperformance in the constituent assembly and continued obstruction of the proceedings of the House, the calendar of activities relating to the constitution making has been changed five times. The delay and changes in the calendar of activities have reduced the time for public debate on the draft of the constitution. Now we have only nine months left for the constitution writing as per the Interim Constitution. Given the slow progress, the people may not have adequate time to take part in the debate and discussion on the draft of the constitution. If that is the case, people’s voice would not be genuinely incorporated in the constitution. If their voices are not genuinely represented and incorporated, people may not take ownership of the constitution.