November 27, 2013


[Alas! Nepalese leaders and parties could contribute a small portion for making this endeavor a little bit better. Or, at least they do no harm to  this process ! But, it is not so easy to expect any good from them. Notwithstanding what the leaders or parties do, we could reach to a new high. Nepal could be a glaring example of success, if the same tempo continues for few more years. This would be a fine example of success where politicians pull down the nation but people push up and succeed.]

By Govinda Neupane
The second Constituent Assembly (CA)  election has been basically over. The old 'greats' Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist party of Nepal (UML) are back to the desk or to their grand old days. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or UCPNM swallowed bitter pills. The Madhesi parties shed some weight or their mussels and became slimmer and perhaps, ‘fitter’ or thinner so to say. The monarchist pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Nepal (RPPN) fared well  and good. The small parties got their cake slices according to their size and strength. The boycotters - the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist led front - have now been sidelined or have emerged stronger; nobody knows exactly as they boycotted the polls.  

Now, there are heated debates, out on the streets, as to whether the elections were fair and impartial  and  rigging has become a buzzword in the town. Another issue of bigger concern is what probable course, the poll-boycotting force, the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPNM) may take in the near future. The third issue is forming a government. The fourth task is writing a constitution and the fifth is to address the larger issues of people's livelihood and taking the country to the path of peace and prosperity.

Let's examine the issues one by one.

Election – Impartial or rigged?

Initially, there was general consensus among the major political parties that the election was peaceful and impartial. All of the contesting party's top leaders seemed in  a rush to thank the people, election commission and interim government also. However, in the middle of the night, UCPNM discovered that the election was rigged and protested in hastily organized press conference - the next morning, some other parties also  followed it. Prominent among them included Sanghiya Samajbadi Party (SSP) and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, Nepal (MJFN).

In an article published by one of the major dailies from Kathmandu, Prakash Chandra Lohani claimed that  the poll was rigged and was not impartial. This revelation gave some credence to vote fraud in the country. The probability of army involvement  in this process made the situation further complicated. The UCPNM blamed that some abstract forces were behind this 'poll rig', Dr. Lohani finger pointed to army's complicity and "pro-poll-rig theory" while media blamed India for running 'such a show' behind the curtain. Among the believers of poll rigging  or "conspiracy theory", nobody knows what exactly went wrong; but they strongly feel the election results were 'cooked' or prepared behind closed doors. In the past, when King Birendra Shah and his family members were murdered, many people blamed his own child did it. They did not know how, but concluded that they know who the person was. The same thing has repeated now. The believers of "Rigging Theory" do not know how and who did it, but are sure that the election was rigged. I leave it for future to dig out the truth, if anything needs to be discovered.

However, this "poll rigging theory" gave comfort to UCPNM and helped save the morale of their cadres. This is, perhaps, the positive outcome of this theory. More than this, there would be no big impact; crying loud would not red-card foul players. UCPNM will sneak into the CA edifice in one or the other pretext and the business will continue as usual.

One point should be noted down here though that primarily, the voters voted against the highhandedness, cadres' vulgarity,  leaders' luxuries and anti-people as well as anti-nation UCPNM policies rather than endorsing NC and UML agenda. If it were not rigged, it was a negative vote against the UCPNM.

What would be the future course of the forces boycotting CA election?

The CPN- M led front has lost radiance as the turn out was so high, the election commission said 70%, but it  will  certainly celebrate because everyone in the main street says the poll was stolen. This phenomenon gave an opportunity to the front for soul searching and also boosted its morale.

Now, they have two options available :

a) First, they will boycott the entire constitution writing process, discredit the entire CA and go for mass agitation for a new way to draft a new constitution. This way, by excluding them from the new constitution drafting process, they may burn the constitution in near future. The forces fighting for inclusion and justice, which were in favor of federalism with identity of nationalities and social, political and economic justice for Dalits may form coalition with them, and in this way they may build a formidable force. They will basically function as permanent opposition and one fine morning the CPN - M may start another armed rebellion.

b) Second, they will enter into dialogue to write a constitution that could insert a few provisions, which are dear to the front. These provisions, if included, may assuage the ego of the front and also could be made the constitution a bit more inclusive. They will not burn down the constitution and will repeat what UML had done in 1990s. They will say "support with reservation" and go slowly the UML way and assimilate in the larger canvas of the conventional politics.

How the government would be formed?

Now, this is a major question. There are two probable options here too.

The first and more probable option makes the situation easier to form the government and more complicated to deliver. The NC has emerged as the single largest party. The UML can not survive without ‘fodder and power’ is its lone fodder. Hence, rather than staying in opposition, it will join the government with juicy ministries under its control. When its pathfinder UML joins the government, the ardent follower, the UCPNM also would jump into the bandwagon. The fourth party, the RPPN would lead the opposition with its stale ideology, regressive program and feeble number.  The 'Three Big Wigs' will run the loot raj as they are familiar with how to run and the opposition would just play a weaker role. Nepal will loose again.

The second option could be that the NC as largest party forms the government and UML stays out in opposition. The unpredictable UCPNM may join the government as, it needs power to remain relevant and united. Hence, there would be two power blocks. The other forces would join this or that power block. This way, the government may function independent of the responsibility of drafting a new constitution. Running the government and drafting  a constitution would be separate jobs. This option is more hypothetical in light of  hunger for power in Nepali political field, but would be ideal for functioning of the democratic institutions: the government and participatory process of constitution writing.

How the constitution drafting process would go?

This time, the CA has more homogeneous nature in regard to the agenda. Particularly, 'multi-identity federalism' and supremacy of parliamentary cabinet system are common between NC and UML. Only a small difference is about how the Prime Minister is elected –the Israeli way or the British way. This minor difference is that of more technical nature and it would not be a major hurdle. Hence, a constitution with ‘soul’  or essence of 1990 constitution and form of Indian constitution would be the final product,  should  NC and UML succeed to translate their manifestoes into reality.  However, here is a big question mark.

The UCPNM would try to project itself as the Messiah of social inclusion and justice including "federalism with identity." This is the strongest emotional chord that the party could get hands on. The opposition forces that boycotted the polls would join hands and the other identity based parties may also join this front. This force makes the life of numerically stronger NC and UML vulnerable as their own flocks from Janajatis, Dalits and Madhesis will start creating unbearable pressure on them.

Fight over the nature and essence of federalism would divide the nation in an unprecedented scale and intensity. Hence, the constitution drafting process, most probably, would get delayed for sometime time long.

The alternatives are, there such as, the NC and UML agreeing to walk halfway and the opposing forces also agreeing to come forward and reach the same destination and there is constitution which has both "Aye, federalism with identity" and "Nay, no federalism with identity". Both blocks would interpret it according to their needs. However, when that would come into practice, the whole nation will face  another mess politically created by this ambiguous constitutional provision.

Moreover, the new CA may not formulate progressive provisions to correct the injustices on Dalits as the NC and UML have nothing to offer other than some cosmetics. This contradiction would continue unresolved.

This way, Janajatis, Madhesis and Dalits would feel excluded and another wind of agitation would make the situation more unstable.

What would be done for people's livelihood and country's progress during the interim period?

The party leaders are well known for inaction, hypocrisy, corruption and shortshightedness. I have never seen or heard a bull giving birth to a calf. Therefore, expecting any contribution  to the country from the political elites would be  too unrealistic.

However, Nepalese people are intelligent, enterprising, committed and fundamentally disciplined folks. They have been finding the ways and means that make them more productive, their families prospering and the nation, at least, surviving.  A few millions have been working hard in the Gulf regions deserts, more or less the same number is in India, some are in the jungle of Malaysia, or in South Korea and a few are in Europe, Japan, Australia and America. Many among them are working under sub-human conditions, a few have lost their precious lives and only a small percentage is in better positions. The others in Nepal itself are busy in changing the subsistence agriculture into economically viable agriculture activities, some are active in providing services and some are managing profit ventures. In this way, our people with never-say die attitude are sustaining Nepal as a place worth  some how living ! Hence, not the elites in the government, but the common people from villages, towns and cities are the protectors of our survival and hope for a bright future. The expansion of educational institutions, functional health facilities, transport system and means of communications including the frequency modulation - FM radios; all tiny enterprises run by the small private sector are contributing to create the foundation of a shinning Nepal.

Alas! Nepalese leaders and parties could contribute a small portion to making this endeavor little bit better. Or, at least they do no harm to  this process ! But, it is not so easy to expect any good from them. Notwithstanding what the leaders or parties do, we could reach to a new high. Nepal could be a glaring example of success, if the same tempo continues for few more years. This would be a fine example of success where politicians pull down the nation but people push up and succeed.


I am not very hopeful that this CA would be different than the one we had in the recent past. The top Nepalese politicians neither are clean nor honest (except for Sushil Koirala and Mohan Baidhya), nor are they any visionaries frankly. The political parties they run are less like a party and more like their fiefdoms. Hence, the situation from now onwards also would be very messy. But, Nepalese people will continue to fight against all odds and would make Nepal proud by their entrepreneurial endeavors that would include : cleaning current political mess sometime in the near future. Although, this may sound  unreal or just a dream now, but a dream, when gets translated into a vision and action, it becomes a mother of a new invention and reality. We are in that process. Really, it is interesting to note that we are marching forward with good speed and intensity.