President Ram Baran Yadav once again seems to be on a collision course with the Baburam Bhattarai-led government. With just two days for the expiry of his latest deadline for the political parties to come to an agreement, he sent them a strongly-worded message on Saturday, as he made it clear that he would not watch from the sidelines while the political parties wasted valuable time bickering over power issues, instead of working to resolve the current political and constitutional crisis. He has every right to be disappointed.
The lack of seriousness shown by political parties over the last few weeks on providing a way out for the country is inexcusable. The most irresponsible role in the whole affair has been played by UCPN (Maoist), and particularly its inconsistent chairman. Even after four main forces had already agreed on new polls, the Maoists made a U-turn in resurrecting the issue of CA reinstatement. The party’s change of heart is less a matter of ideology, than a reflection of the overweening ambition of Pushpa Kamal Dahal to build a constituency for his eventual elevation to the position of presidency.
Regrettably, even senior NC leaders like Ram Chandra Poudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba seem to have fallen under his spell and appear ready to compromise on the party’s stand on new polls for a shot at prime ministership. Their blatant lust for power is only matched by the Maoist party’s determination to stick to the government until they get a deal in their favor, most importantly on government form and federalism.
As things stand, there seems to be no way out of the current impasse as political parties seem to be divided right down the middle on the issue of new polls vs reinstatement. We are not completely opposed to CA revival provided there is a broad consensus for it. But developments in last few weeks show that such an outcome is unlikely, given that besides the two main opposition parties, a big section of janajati and Madhesi stakeholders feel CA revival will neither settle contentious constitutional issues, nor address the inclusion agenda of marginalized communities.
The parties are well aware of the fact that their constant vacillation might one day push the president into taking an unconstitutional step. If they continue to raise the stakes, president Yadav might have no option but to take a drastic measure like calling for a new prime ministerial candidate from among political parties. That would be a very troubling development for the country. And as much as the president might be held responsible for it, the parties will be even more to blame. Even if the president takes no such steps immediately, his hand might be forced when the government’s quarterly budget runs out in a month’s time.
President Yadav has already made it clear that without consensus, he will not endorse any new budget proposal from the government. We believe the political parties should avoid such a confrontational path at all costs. Such a move could undo all achievements post-2006, thereby creating new space for regressive forces to play in