Hardly one month has passed since the 19 November elections for the Constituent Assembly II, the popular hope and enthusiasm that the CA II will write a new constitution within six months to a year has already been dissipating in the political rough and tumble of Kathmandu. The only way to get the constitution as promised, it seems, is to let the current bureaucratic government continue until the task is complete.
There are three options about government and the constitution. The ideal and best option would be for the elected leaders to form government and to write a new statute with next six months to a year, as most parties have promised in their manifesto. The second best option would be to let the bureaucratic government continue while the elected leaders target their energy and time to formulate the law of land. Third and the worst option would be the elected leaders running the government but not being able to write the statute in next several years.
The CA I went for the best option and ended with the worst. It formed government of elective representatives but could not write the constitution, even in the vastly extended timeframe. Given the squabble between the largest and second largest parties in the CA II, Nepali Congress and UML, over power sharing and the Maoists, third largest, trying to impose their will through obstructionism, there is no guarantee that the previous experience will not be repeated all over again.
Politics is done for power. Political parties want power more than anything else, and I do not blame them for it. The Nepali Congress and UML, largest and second largest parties in the CA II, are competing for power and have threatened to sit in the opposition if they do not get what they want. The Maoists, reduced to the third force now from the first in the CA I, have put forward a slew of preconditions to remain relevant. The 33 parties opposed to the CA II elections want to write a constitution outside the Assembly.
In a regular parliament, this is normal political game. But the CA is not just a parliament; its principal goal is to write a new constitution; and the power game being played will come in the way of drafting a new statute. It could work well neither as a legislature nor as a constitution writing body. The Indian CA headed by two different speakers, one for making law and the other for drafting the statue – could, it is argued, be a good model to follow.
But we should not forget that India did it in a different set of circumstances: The CA was elected by provincial assemblies; had only 299 members; had 69 percent members from the Indian Congress alone; and was led by a visionary leader Dr. Rejendra Prasad. The government was led by the illustrious and enlightened leader Jawaharlal Nehru.
While it is not impossible – nothing is impossible, as Napoleon Bonaparte has said – to achieve what India did, it will be very hard in Nepal, where we have a completely different slew of circumstances: In...