Even though the political parties have intensified parleys to find solutions to all the disputed issues of the new constitution, they are yet to find a successful passage to ending the deadlock. The failure on the part of the parties is mainly due to the fact that they are stuck firmly to their stances and are very averse to seeking last hour compromises for the larger good of the nation.
The parties are guided by their own party interests rather than the interests of the nation. Which is the reason why they have failed to forge the much talked-about consensus on the disputed items and are now gearing for a voting procedure in the house where these contentious issues will be endorsed through a majority vote.
The voting procedure, it is feared, may prove detrimental to the social harmony and integrity of the nation. The CA members and lawmakers of different stripes may put their ballots for any proposition that would be beneficial for their parties or ethnic groups, castes, classes, genders and so on, which may prove detrimental to the unity of the nation.
There are a host of decisions the parties have made that are against the nationís well being. A few days ago, the parties agreed on the formation of a bicameral legislature for a federal Nepal which would consists of about 380 lawmakers through the first-past-the post and proportional elections procedure. Soon after the parties agreed on the legislature, criticisms were directed towards them from all directions.
The detractors of the decision, which consisted of party leaders, the civil society, media and others, stated that the number of lawmakers for the legislature of a small nation like Nepal would not be viable or desirable economically. Besides the legislature at the center, the nationís coffer will have to shell out resources to the parliamentarians of the provincial parliaments. The critics of the parties say that mainly the Maoist and its ruling ally - the United Madhesi Front - are less concerned about the well-being of the state, and are simply after protecting the party interests.
Likewise, the two ruling parties are also making their own obdurate stance on the two most troublesome matters of statute writing, which are actually in need of consensus and compromises. On these issues, the parties are working to protest their interests by banking on populist moves.
The UCPN-Maoist and the Madhesi Front, which are having a whale of a time sitting in the government, are very averse to a change of government, although the other two major parties, the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have been demanding that the present government must resign to form a national unity government under the Nepali Congressí leadership as per the agreement reached among the parties on November 1 last year.
The Nepali Congress and the UML grew suspicious of the Maoist-Front motives after both the parties supported the Maoist proposal of federating the country into 10 provinces purely on ethnic lines. The Congress has proposed seven provinces which have also been backed by the UML.
Earlier, the Maoist chairman had also expressed that six to eight provinces would be an ideal proposition. After the Maoistsí positive stance on the number of provinces, the Congress had given up its rigid stance on the form of governance and had agreed on a mixed system. But suddenly, the Maoists came up with its 10-province idea, which raised the suspicion of the two non-Maoist and non-Madhesi parties. To counter the Maoist move, the UML even proposed 12 provinces, but later changed its stance to seven provinces as proposed by the Congress.
The Nepali Congress, while proposing its provinces, did not give ethnic names to the provinces, as opposed to the Maoists, which seems to be the right move in maintaining the communal harmony in the nation. However, the Maoist proposal and its pro-ethnic stance is certainly a populist move. Going against the Maoist proposal, the Congress and UML are likely to be branded as anti-ethnicity parties. This branding, these two parties fear, may cause erosion of their ethnic vote banks. However, experts and analysts believe that creating ethnic division through state federalisation, would be harmful for a nation like Nepal where a large number of ethnic groups reside.
The stance of the two ruling parties on the provinces and governance has compelled the Congress and the UML to mount pressure for the formation of a national consensus government. As if matters related to state restructuring and forms of governance were not enough, the demand for the formation of a national consensus government was made to give a new twist to the existing teething problems.
Such a demand was made with the hope that the parties would be able to come up with a single voice on the most tenuous issues that have posed a great obstruction to the preparation of the statute even at this crucial hour, where the parties are left without much time. The demand for the formation of a national unity government was among the 7-point agreement among the parties on November 1last year. The parties had then agreed that a national unity government would be made under the leadership of the Nepali Congress. But they did not decide whether such a government would be formed before the May 27 deadline or after it.
National unity government
Although the Congress and UML have upped their ante against the Maoist-Morcha coalition, the ruling parties have decided that there was no need for the present government to resign to make way for another national unity government till the time the constitution was promulgated.
After the ruling parties vowed to protect the Bhattarai government, the Congress and UML have also expressed that they could bring a no-confidence motion against the government. They are hopeful of bringing down the government as they are likely to get support from the hard-line faction of the Maoist party, led by Mohan Baidhya. In fact, the leaders of this faction are asking the Congress and UML to go for a no-confidence vote against the Dr. Bhattarai government. They have even expressed that the faction would join any government which is headed by a leader other than Dr. Bhattarai.
As the parties are still involved in a kind of war of nerves, they have failed to forge consensus, thus opting for a voting procedure in the CA to get the matters endorsed through a majority vote. However, it is less likely that even after getting the endorsement through a simple majority, the contentious issues would be backed by two-thirds of the CA members as the two key and several other parties are very averse to the Maoist-Morcha proposal.
The situation will give rise to another round of confusion and chaos, which is favourable only for some parties and groups that want to swim in turbid water and create social disharmony in the nation.