UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is at the center of Nepali politics, someone, people believe, who is capable of bailing the country out of the current political and constitutional crisis. But what certainly doesn’t help is constant change on his stance on important issues. Dahal’s latest proposal of revival of the Constituent Assembly and formation of a Nepali Congress-led consensus government has come at a time when the opposition parties have been demanding for the resignation of PM Bhattarai in order to create an environment of trust. Though the demand for the revival of the CA has been one of the major contentious issues since the body’s dissolution on May 27, there is genuine concern, both among the general public and the country’s intelligentsia, about the ability of the body that failed to carry out its task of promulgating a new constitution in four long years, to find a credible solution second time around.
Dahal’s proposal to revive the CA during his meeting with NC president Sushil Koirala Wednesday comes a day after he blamed NC’s failure to pick a prime ministerial candidate for a consensus government as the main hindrance for a breakthrough. We believe Dahal’s call on NC to settle its prime ministerial candidate is a direct interference in what is clearly the party’s internal matter. The issue here is not who should lead from NC but whether NC should lead the consensus government. And it is not Dahal who will decide the NC candidate. It is rather up to NC itself to settle on a candidate once the parties agree to consensus government under its leadership.
Notably, while addressing a separate program organized by the Federal Democratic Republican Alliance on Tuesday, Dahal had asked NC and CPN-UML to either agree to fresh elections or revival of CA after settling contentious constitutional issues. Dahal’s continuous change in stance has irritated opposition leaders who accuse him of trying to engineer divides within their parties through his incendiary rhetoric. Dahal, who failed to keep his own party intact, should refrain from offering suggestions on how other parties should run their house. We agree: NC and CPN-UML have failed to come out with a concrete proposal on government change, but we also believe that as one of the key players in the constitutional process and being at the helm of current government, Dahal and UCPN (Maoist) vice chairman Baburam Bhattarai should be taking the lead in finding a solution.
And the revival of a jumbo CA that let the people down bitterly is definitely not the solution. The ideal solution would be for the caretaker prime minister to leave office, followed by formation of a NC-led consensus government with representatives from all sides, which in turn would work to create conducive environment for election of a new (and smaller) CA. Therefore, as the most important political figure in the country at the moment, Dahal should shun from irritating opposition leaders by changing his stance time and again and interfering in other parties’ internal affairs. Instead, he should lead the way for consensus in order to bridge the trust deficit that is now threatening to boil over