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  Give CA one more chance  


As the extended term of the Constituent Assembly (CA) nears its end without completing its mandated tasks, there has been an upsurge of attacks against its continuation through another extension. There are a variety of factors and forces, both internal and external, behind this resistance to the CA. Yet there is not one compellingly persuasive argument for why the CA should be dissolved.

Within the party political sphere, the opposition is primarily procedural and not substantive. One does not expect sophisticated political philosophy from the parties. Therefore, we can presume these to be the routine bargaining positions that they adopt for wresting some share of power and for delaying fundamental changes in statute and jurisprudence that will give new form and content to the Nepali state.

Unlike the political parties, the conservative intelligentsia of the capital has offered some apparently substantive arguments for why the CA should be terminated. These do not consist of anything more than by now recognizably familiar body of arguments that are periodically recycled by the conservatives.

These veterans of many lost wars, acting with the support of those who cannot show their face openly, have invoked every specious argument possible in order to obstruct greater democracy in Nepal. What they want is to protect their turf of wealth and power and, to that end, burden Nepal with their shoddy political dogmas.
The point at issue is quite simple even if the process of getting there is complex. Nepal needs a new constitution for which there is a popularly elected CA. If the results of the elections did not suit various internal and external forces, that is nobody’s fault. No amount of whining in domestic and foreign locales is going to subtract from the sovereign legitimacy of this body.

The same CA has elected the main offices of the republic. If, as some intellectual musclemen of the conservative and neighboring forces have argued, CA had no legitimacy ab initio, then by transitive logic both the president and the vice-president have no more legitimacy than the CA. By that argument, in the event that the CA is to be dissolved for whatever reason or lack of it, the country will then have to be governed by the illegitimate offspring of an illegitimate group of people. Is this the democratic future for which the Nepali people struggled?

For all its problems, the CA is all there at the moment for the Nepali political future to be decided and it is best that all responsible forces come together to write an acceptable statute that reflects ground realities. Only those who have been defeated at the elections can argue otherwise.

The writing of the constitution depends on settling some contentious issues that are intrinsic to all post-conflict situations. To do this, the middle ground between the most influential political formations must be systematically identified. That is a serious and politically responsible pursuit to be mediated by credible Nepali forces. This is not a matter to be left to intellectual gunslingers and political fossils propped up by delusional diplomats not any of whom has even the least representative credentials in Nepal.
In the event that the CA is to be dissolved for whatever reason or lack of it, the country will then have to be governed by the illegitimate offspring of an illegitimate group of people. Is this the democratic future for which the Nepali people struggled?

The most urgent imperative of the moment is to settle all pending disputes concerning arms and armies and promulgate the constitution as mandated by the election of 2008. Failing this, the significant political sentiments in the country, thwarted at the highest level, will find expression through other means at the ground level, as is increasingly happening in India and other parts of the world.

To avoid this, the political class and the responsible intelligentsia must come together to find the middle ground that will give the Nepali people the institutions through which they can live in peace and periodically express their political will. Though war has formally ended, low intensity armed conflict continues across Nepal. As disgruntled elements proliferate, the residual political framework will lose its coherence and collapse leaving a legacy that no one will be able to effectively handle or gain control of Nepal anymore in the future.

The first step out of the present stalemate is to find some political basis for the extension of the CA that is more than just who will lead the government and who else will be part of it and in what ratio the ministries will be divided. It must be based on an understanding that will allow for a consensus in the near future on the fundamental aspects of redefined and reorganized national security forces and state restructuring.

Nepal cannot attain democracy unless it becomes sovereign and it cannot become sovereign until its political class learns to think independently and with self-esteem. A good way to begin is to take seriously the most serious political institution that the people of Nepal have created—the CA.

Writer is affiliated to UCPN (Maoist) Water Resources and Energy Department and lecturer at Nepal Law Campus
Published on 2011-05-26 01:10:51
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Give CA One More Chance
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