Missed opportunity

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Last week, the major political parties missed the deadline to settle the contentious issues of the new constitution after the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC) failed to reach any conclusion on them. This is not the first time in political history of Nepal when the parties in government and opposition fail to forge any consensus on key issues. In the past too, the parties were unable to find any solution of the thorny issue, blaming each other.

According to CA calendar, the parties should resolve the key issues of the constitution by September 6, 2014. It clearly directed the leaders of the major parties to forge consensus on thorny issues of the new constitution within the stipulated deadline. Sadly, they missed the deadline giving rise to fear among the people who have been impatiently waiting to see the new constitution through Constituent Assembly.

Soon after the deadline expired, the chairperson of the PDCC, Dr Baburam Bhattarai, admitted that it was unfortunate that the parties and their leaders were adamant to their respective stances and rigidness. As a result, the consensus still continues to be elusive. According to him, the members of the committee rarely exhibited flexibility to reach the consensus on vexing issues of the new constitution. Question remains, how long such committee will not be able to find the solution of the problem and sadden the country and its countrymen.

These contentious issues are forms and modality of governance in the federal set up, electoral system for the federal units and national parliament, restructuring of the provinces, number of provinces and areas of jurisdiction of the provinces, basis of federalism and formation of the parliament, national assembly and tenure of the members. However, there are other issues which are still unresolved and calls for the urgent heed. They include federal apex court and constitutional court and their area of jurisdiction, appointment and qualification of the chief justice and judges of the federal apex court.

The quarreling parties, however, have found consensus on a few issues to be included in the new statute. The issues that have been agreed upon are the nomenclature of the new constitution, amendable and non- amendable clauses of the constitution, provision of the transitional period, president and vice president continuation of the present parliament. Barring these progresses, there are no significant achievements of the cross party committee under the chairmanship of the Baburam Bhattarai.  

With the deadline to promulgate the constitution approaching alarmingly, the members of the committee are in the combative mood obstructing the constitution writing process. The largest party of the erstwhile CA- UCPM(M)- have reverted to their old stances demanding more than ten provinces based on ethnic lines. Similarly, the CPN (UML)- the coalition in the ruling government- have also expressed some reservation pertinent with the forms of governance, and number and nomenclature of the provinces.  The largest party in the second CA, the Nepali congress is no exception. It has also not shown flexibility on issues related with restructuring of the state and forms of governance. Amidst these confrontations, the country is dire stage seeking an immediate and permanent solution of the long pending issues.

It appears that parties and their leaders have forgotten promise made before the public during the first and second CA elections. In their party manifestos, they vowed to draft the statute within the stipulated deadline and end the protracted political deadlock. This merely has remained a pipedream while people have been impatiently waiting for the new constitution.  

What is more irksome is that leaders have not yet realized their mistakes and embraced any strong initiative to correct them. Their reluctance not to budge from the respective stances on key issues will only increase the disenchantment among the people. This does not bode well for the impoverished country like ours.

It is not time to remain rigid but exhibit flexibility and rise above their self - centered tendency for the sake of national interest. Most importantly, there is no alternative to find consensus on key issues by making compromise. They cannot afford to flex their muscle at this time of critical juncture and again miss the opportunity which is knocking the door. It could invite yet another catastrophe in the country.






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