Growing rift between President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai threatens to further aggravate the ongoing constitutional and political crisis. As the country enters its third month since the dissolution of the CA, there has been no headway towards timely resolution of the twin crisis. First, any possibility of the November 22 election announced by PM Bhattarai, hours before CA’s dissolution, has been quashed following the Election Commission’s clarification that it is impossible to hold elections in the narrow timeframe available.
As the PM has been unable to honor his promise on election, we believe there is currently no alternate to political consensus, on the way to the formation of a consensus government, which, in turn, will decide on new election dates. Even the caretaker PM has admitted as much. The one and only way to clear this logjam, in our view, is for the prime minister to resign, thereby creating an atmosphere for a consensus government.
But we are equally worried about the growing activism of the president. President Yadav on Sunday urged 18 different political parties to forge consensus to resolve the current political deadlock, much to the chagrin of PM Bhattarai. Constitutionally, there is no provision for the president to play an active political role, as he seems to be doing by intensifying dialogue with political parties. To be fair, the president finds himself in a tight spot. While the government wants him to play a very limited role on the unresolved political and constitutional issues in keeping with the interim constitution, the opposition parties, chiefly NC and CPN-UML, are putting pressure on the president to play a more proactive role in ousting the Bhattarai government.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been saying that his party is ready to quit the government once there is an agreement between major parties on contentious constitutional issues. For the Maoists, CA’s revival after the settlement of contentious issues would be the best way forward. But there is also substance to the opposition’s claim that the Maoist decision not to quit the government is the single biggest stumbling block towards the resolution of the current crisis. It is disingenuous of PM Bhattarai to claim that he will quit only when there is political consensus, knowing full well that such consensus would not be possible without his party’s nod.
As we have been saying all along, there is no alternative to consensus government at this point in time. It will be hypocritical of the ruling parties to insist on settlement of all contentious issues, as they have been doing, before the formation of a new government. We believe all such issues should be settled through a new CA elected on the basis of popular franchise. Following CA’s demise, there are only two credible power centers in the country. Growing mistrust between them will significantly reduce the chances of a quick end to the prolonged transition, taking the country out of the frying pan into the fire